Design Of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Xiao Yong talk about Medal Design of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Interview with Professor Xiao Yong – Director of Studio 7 of School of Design, Central Academy of Fine Arts, One of the Designers in the Medal Design Group for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

by:Fanpeng / Shenyang

Want to see how East meets West? Check out the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games medals!
Their front side is traditional. There’s Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, and the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens, where the first Modern Olympic Games was held in 1896 thanks to the tireless efforts of Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
It’s the reverse side that makes it a perfect blend of the West and East, rather Chinese. A ring of elegance, nobility and virtue adds that essential touch of Chinese culture to the medals. And as any Chinese would tell you, the ring couldn’t be made of anything but jade for only jade can represent all the three qualities.

VisionUnion: Please talk about the inspiration in the design of the medals.

Xiao Yong: In fact, the process was quite sophisticated, while the result was quite simple. We set up a design team, including 7 students within our studio, after we received the bidding documents. As the first step, we collected many materials. But we mainly focused on the decorative graphics, for example, the Great Wall images and totem images, which are difficult to be various within a small medal.
We set several new directions. The first was to try new and distinctive design. The second was tobravely create new shapes. The third was to adopt traditional element with strongly sense of modernism.

After the determination of directions, I supposed to use new material as design element. The proposal began with that I recommend jade for main material. The shape turned to be ring after discussion and renovation. The embryonic form for the final selected bidding proposal came into being.
We also experienced painful but necessary procedure that some initial proposals got merged, combined or abandoned.

Another question was, it is strictly forbidden to use ambiguity element during the design. Dragon, (means blessing)character, Chinese knot and such design element may cause ambiguities and are not suitable for physical education or Olympic Games. We must keep in mind that every effort is to serve the Olympic Games.

It is great challenge to get accepted by all to design summer Olympic medals in China.
Our several proposals entered Top 10, including the jade concept proposal. We got active and constructive advises from experts and officials who came from home and abroad. These advises helped us to improve the proposal in many new aspects.

Sometimes we thought original design sketches were most important. As a matter of fact, I kept the first piece of sketches every time, for it was my initial point and created with a fresh and sensitive viewpoint. The following steps usually repeat, as an old Chinese saying by Lao Zi, which tells that things turn around from time to time.

The medals reflect the athlete spirit, combining those true and simple, stable and dynamic, lively and powerful, strong and durable. It is small with area and weight limited. It is never too complicated except hanger part, which is engraved into cloud shapes. It looks graceful even when covered by silk ribbon. The delicate details reflect part of Chinese traditional aesthetics features.

VisionUnion: Did the medal design take 15 months?

Xiao Yong: It took over a year, which is hard to measure. We experience several stages of works, from submission to win the competition. We kept renovation during each stage of work. Sometimes we need waiting for feedback before fabricating. The whole work was distributed to both teachers and students. The overall process lasted over a year which is hard to measure precisely. Process went accelerated after its previous one, like a car gearing up, until finally reached the goal. The work resulted from intelligence and advises of many persons.

VisionUnion: We know that many students took part in this project. What will the students learn from this project?

Xiao Yong: I felt it was a very special project. As we know, only a few colleges took responsibilities in designing Olympic related projects. It is with Chinese characters for us to take part in. It is also a good opportunity to prove our teaching and practicing abilities. As a matter of fact, design team from Central Academy of Fine Arts is able to play a role in national rating projects and international rating projects. The success relies on our ability and concept, as well as the coordination and team work, which is determinative. Otherwise, if each of us submits their own proposals, the quantity would be over 100 or even more. Thus each proposal would get less attention. The teachers guided the working method and direction, as well as making final decisions. The students cooperated together. All the efforts lead to every success during each stage of work.

VisionUnion: How will the Olympic Games affect our domestic design?

Xiao Yong: The Olympic Games is not a new topic. It is linked with China since around the year 2000. All designers are excited. Each one of them should actively make their own effort to take part in. Many projects are open for bidding. The participants should include capable designers, institutes, groups, and schools of design. It is a test for us to prove our teaching and designing abilities. It strengthened our confident. It is an opportunity as well as a test.

VisionUnion: What is your strongest feeling?

Xiao Yong: It is a challenge for us to carry out the project. It is also an experience for each teacher and student of us to restudy and re-design, through which we got deeper knowledge of the Olympic spirit and trend. On the other hand, we gained endless treasure through putting Chinese traditional culture elements and humanistic art elements into the design. We still have a lot of work to do. As Chinese designers, it is our responsibility to promote Chinese culture to the whole world.

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How to resolve the problem that jade’s aptness to be broken?
– Interview with The Designer of Olympic Medals Wang Yipeng

Wang Yipeng professor, vice president of design college of Central Acadamy of Fine Arts, director of No.2 studio and member of the medal designing team

Visionunion: We know the big problem occurs that jade is apt to be broken. How do you solve the problem?
Wang Yipeng: During the past sessions of the Olympic Games, some athletes were too excited to prevent themselves from radical behavior such as throwing medals away which will probably cause the medal falling to the ground. We know that jade is apt to be broken. To solve the problem, we practised to ensure the medal not break when falling from 2 meters above even the hardest floor. We tried with granite and ceramic tiles. The due period was two months.

When a medal falls to the ground, the situation that it touch on its side will occupy 90 percent among all the possibilities. Why don’t we cut a groove between metal and jade? The groove would act as a buffer sector. We put into the groove special material that is soft and strong in some degree. We cut metal as well as jade to create the buffer space. Finally we set the medal to be 6mm-thick and jade to be 3mm-thick. Then we put in the matereal, making it hardened and expanded. Thus it is tightened between metal and jade. The advantage lies in two aspects: all materials are fixed tight; the added material could act as a buffer when the medal hit the ground. Does it work? The answer is no while we practised. There is still a small disturbance remained that the space within the groove is not enough to buffer the hit. The space is also not to be too large which will appear no elegance. We tried to slope the groove to gain larger spaces inside. This special structure is easy to be talked about, yet we practised many times under great pressures.

Visionunion: When did the pressure get its most?
Wang Yipeng: The last half month. We faced great pressure because it might ruin the whole year of work that carried out by all of us if we could not complete the design. We revised our plans. I remembered that we made 18 plans to ensure success by all means. I suffered insomnia during that period. We kept trying and renovating. At last the problem was solved by carrying out one of those 18 plans. The process was recorded by video tapes. I submitted to the International Olympic Committee on Dec 28, with a week’s time reserved for the final fabricate. I thought that the medal should have emotions with me since I kept researching it for a year.

Please issue your viewpoint:

  1. how do you think about this metal design
  2. how do you think about jade



Thanks for posting the article. Once again it is great that Industrial designers in China have been able to use Chinese history but abstract in in new ways. This follows in the line of the Olympic Torch, Cauldron and Lantern.

I hope this start to occur in Chinese product designs so that “Chinese Style” industrial design will develop.

Guo Chunning – Designer of Insignia for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Profile of Guo Chunning
Born in 1958 at Shenyang; Study art design at Tianjin Arts and Crafts School since 1975; Study Commercial Art Design at Decoration Dept. of Central Academy of Arts and Crafts(now Academy of Arts & Design of Tsinghua University) since 1980; Working at advertisement dept. of China Daily since 1984; Resign at 1988; Participate in establishment of Beijing Shichuang International Design Co., Ltd; As the nominee in name of the company, his original work China Stamp – Dancing Beijing became insignia for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Vision Union: You are the designer of insignia for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Now everybody clearly remembers the Chinese character in the insignia. As he designer of insignia for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, how did you get that idea?
Guo Chunning: The Olympic Games insignia was to be presented to all around the world. Both International Olympic Committee and China Olympic Committee emphasized the insignia reflect Chinese feature and Chinese culture, and stand for our local image. Every past session of Olympic Games was a perfect combination of Olympic spirit and local culture. People pay attention to the host city’s abundant culture intention while host the Olympic Games. It is a good opportunity to develop our excellent traditional culture through the Olympic Games insignia. The real inspiration came from seeking for the Chinese vision. What is Chinese vision? And what kind of vision could be the element in the design of the insignia? Chinese culture could be easily described as broad and deep with a long history. But it is a great challenge to express the culture graphically, using simple shape, combined with great meaning, and to be recognized by the whole world. While creating the Chinese vision concept, Chinese character was naturally adopted. The Chinese character is not only symbol and tool to record culture, but also unique art of China, with special visual feature. The character line structure is quite meaningful. Calligraphy and stamp carving are based on and developed on Chinese characters, which is widely accepted by the whole world. Foreign people could easily recognize the character be from China, while they may not know exact meaning of the character. The square Chinese characters remain its graphic meaning during long history. It is quite unique and represents the nation’s feature.

Refer to the content, the insignia should have both graceful shape and profound meaning, while the meaning plays the major role. Since Olympic Games are named with the name of host city, the insignia should be stressed on the host city’s local feature. We choose the character , which represent the city of Beijing. To discover other meanings of this character, we turned to the Modern Chinese Vocabulary, within which we found that this character was the abbreviation of Beijing, representing Beijing, the capital city. Also the character has no other meanings, including negative meanings. So we determined to use this character for the Olympic Games. The third reason for which we made the decision was that has simple line structure, which allows me to create a humanoid shape to strengthen visual shock or promote Olympic sports atmosphere. People could be easily evoked with the Olympic spirit through this humanoid insignia. By all means, we choose the character . Chinese character is the source for us in designing the insignia.

Vision Union: As a famous designer in China, what kind of opinion do you have when facing the opportunities brought by the Olympic Games?

Guo Chunning: The whole nation’s effort resulted in the arriving of the Olympic Games into China. It brings great opportunities to Chinese designers. As we know, Chinese designers have great expectation to the Games. They are eager to participate in the competitive and beneficial works. They also want to gain reputations and accept by the world. All Chinese designers have this thought. In the contrast, some designers, including some excellent domestic designers, gave up. The reason was not that they looked down on the opportunity. They felt having no satisfying inspiration to take part in the competition. I also felt confused at the beginning, because it was so difficult to be confirmed by the country and even by the whole world. I mentioned the Oscar Award before. To win the competition is harder than to win the Oscar, for Oscar is hold annually, while Olympic Games is hold every four years. The Olympic Games has a history of over 100 years. This is its first time to arrive in China. I believe all Chinese designers are willing to participate. Some asks how much money one could earn from this. I told them it is not the matter of money. We are willing to participate even without the promotion of money. Honor is more important than money. In fact, I myself was driven by the Olympic spirit to carry out the work. One of the Olympic slogan is that participating is winning. Participating is really important. I believe that action leads to success when we face opportunities.

Beijing 2008 Olympic Games posters

BEIJING, July 18
— On Friday afternoon, a press conference was held at the Main Press Center (MPC) in Beijing regarding the launch of official posters of the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Zhao Yanxia, deputy director of BOCOG Culture and Ceremonies Department, pointed out that Olympic and Paralympic posters are an important part of promoting the appeal of the Games, as well as highlighting Olympic host cities, acting as “a visual representation of commerce and culture.”

Great stuff, thanks for the interview.

During the session of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China’s National Post Bureau will issue 4 sets of memorial stamps named Memorials to the Opening of the 29th Olympic Games, Memorials to the Opening of Beijing 2008 Olympic Expo, Olympic Games from Beijing to London, and Beijing 2008 Paralympics. After designing the Olympic medals, Mr. Xiao Yong is continuing his effort to cooperate with British designers designing a set of stamps named From Beijing to London and associated postal articles, which will be jointly issued by China and the U.K. at the closing ceremony of Beijing Olympic Games, keeping on the Olympic spirits from Beijing to London.