Nationalising international signs: Beijing 2008 Olympics sports pictograms and signage design

Zhou, Yuan
Leong, Yap
Valentine, Jonty
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Master of Arts (Art and Design)
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Auckland University of Technology

Nationalising International Signs is a practice-based research project focused on the analysis, design and evaluation of sports pictograms and signage for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. This is a very significant event for China to showcase its modernity, economic strengths, innovation, social-cultural uniqueness and other national heritage.

One of the biggest challenges encountered in this project is the judicious and imaginative application of Chinese cultural and heritage values to a set of well-recognised Olympic signs and their transformation into a nationally unique hybrid that can be easily read and understood by an international audience. The issue is not one to do with limitation, but rather to do with the abundance of 5000 years of cultural heritage, icons, motifs, folktales, beliefs and history.

This exegesis documents the cultural ‘search’ and the examination of, experimentation with, transformation and evaluation of a complete set of sports pictograms that are created to effectively emphasise and visually communicate the national identity of China. Both the rationale and the justification of the conceptual proposals are discussed along with the design approaches and research methods to contextualise and evaluate the pictograms, signage and commercial applications.

This project consists of an exhibition of practical work that represents the main body of applied research. The practical work constitutes 80% and the exegesis constitutes 20% of the project’s value.

Olympic Games , 29th : 2008 : Beijing, China , Signs and symbols , Beijing
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