I remember the cold morning in London's Leicester Square some years ago (maybe 2003 or 2004?), when The Design Conspiracy gathered outside the Empire cinema with a whole host of other designers young and old, waiting to get briefed on a logo competition. A big logo competition. A very exciting competition. A competition to design the logo for London's bid to host the Olympic Games in 2012. Not the actual Olympic logo, but the bid logo. Quite different, but still very exciting.
Despite lots of tutting and sighing in the press and design world about such a big job being put out to 'free competition' we relished the opportunity that a small, young design agency probably wouldn't have got otherwise. Needless to say, we didn't win, despite our wonderful (?) efforts. A logo was chosen and the bid process continued. It didn't extinguish our hope of London hosting an Olympic Games, despite it being many many years off.
So then the day came when the outcome of the bids were announced, July 6th 2005. Scenes coming from Singapore were a sporting lovefest of congratulatory hugging, kissing and cheering between some of Great Britain's greatest sporting legends, all clad in beige suits and blue shirts. Their work had paid off and they were bringing the Games to London. Yes!!!! They were coming!!
And then THUD!! We all know what happened the next day, 7th July 2005. It couldn't have been more heartbreaking. Such joy and excitement one day to utter disbelief and bewilderment the next. Terrorist attacks in London. Gorgeous, brilliant London. London that was just chosen to put on the greatest show on earth. How could we pick ourselves up after such a horrific event like the bombings, blasting our tubes, our buses, our people? Could we still do it?
Oh. My. Goodness. We most definitley could do it.
Forget the rain, forget the haters, forget the rise in council tax to pay for it, forget whether the transport network could handle it, forget 'can we do it on time?' Forget things like this...
We have just had the best summer ever.
London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were amazing. The torch relay! That opening ceremony! The flame!
The architecture was phenemonal, not just beautiful buildings, clever buildings. Buildings that can be dismantled, buildings that can be re-used, can be reduced in size. Some will remain and become icons like the Aquatics Centre, Velodrome, Olympic Stadium and not forgetting the awesome Copper Box. Not every sport or building is going to attract the same amount of spectators again so it makes super sense that they aren't permanent structures.
The look, logo, identity, branding whatver you like to call it (it differs from person to person, trust us) really came into it's own. Love or hate the Wolf Olins mark, we actually love it and have done since day one, it really worked. It was bright and in your face, unlike any other Olympic visual style I can remember. The jaunty angles in the logo were also applied throughout the Olympic park, whether on signage, seating, printed literature or tickets.
The colours, wow! The use of the hot pink and purple everywhere was really brave but also clever. No national flags that we can think of use either of those colours (please tell us if we're mistaken) making them pretty neutral for all supporters and spectators, but extremly eyecatching for directional signage!
My tv has never looked so good with all the bright colour clashes. Pink and red (so no, but so yes) at the gymnastics, positively glowing out of the screen. The bright blue hockey pitches with pops of pink, a million miles away from the usual dusty terracotta or green we usually get. The lights at the fencing, like something out of Tron. The boxers coming through the tunnels with all their lights, like something from a Hype Williams video.
The people, the games makers, the javelin train. All ace. I can't speak for all London's major train terminals but when you stepped off at St Pancras, it was like arriving at some surreal but perfect holiday destination. Handed a free strawberry split on the platform, greeted by people dressed as plantpots (yes) just doing their thing as you do.
Pianos scattered about for people to just rock up and play themselves, and people did, beautifully. I don't know if those pianists were 'planted' to look like average Joes but they could certainly play and they looked pretty normal.
If you didn't know where you were going because you somehow missed the fantastically obvious directional signage then there were people on hand just to help you out. I even saw them on occasions approach civilians who looked flustered but who probably too shy to ask. Unheard of in London, especilally with TFL.
Yeah, it is. AND IT WAS FREAKIN' AWESOME!
I knew I loved athletics, admired cycling and showed quite an interest in diving when little Tom Daley was in action but Judo, Handball, BMXing, Boxing, Rowing, Shooting, Triathaloning, who knew? Glued to the tv, whilst trying to buy tickets on the laptop with one hand and tweeting like I've never tweeted before with the other. Just watching the golds chinging up! Transfixed completely. In awe of such dedication and achievement. So proud of Team GB and ParalympicGB for an amazing performance throughout. And loved their posing in the adidas photobooth too.
We got to learn some new moves like these...
See some great Pete McKee images like these...
Some of us were lucky enough to attend events, I personally witnessed a bit of Bolt, Pistorius and think I contributed quite heavily to Jessica Ennis' success having screamed and cheered my heart out for five of her seven events. As you will see from the previous post Kingsley got to see the handball too. That game is tough!
Some of us were lucky enough to be in an event. Oh yes. Our very own Tom was in the closing ceremony. That's right. In it. He was in it.
Sworn to secrecy for months while he went off to Dagenham every now and then for a practice. We knew what he was up to on that gorgeous Lambretta LI 125 Special 1967 of his.
Only didn't know how exciting it would be waiting for him to appear on my tv. Blasting in with the Kasier Chiefs singing The Who's Pinball Wizard. Brilliant. The feeling of being involved must have been so electric and special, as you can see in this video shot by one of his co-riders. He also got a letter from the Prime Minister thanking him. Nice.
I could sit here all day and wax lyrical about so many aspects of the Olympics, what was good, who was brilliant, how I felt, what I liked, the legacy, the inspiration, the best campaigns (adidas takethestage)...
or who had the best kits (Team GB Stella McCartney/adidas by a long shot) and all that but I'll let you get on with your day. I'm going to watch this adidas Team GB video again.
So, there it was. London 2012. Well, well worth the wait!