Xiao Yong talk about Medal Design of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Interview with Professor Xiao Yong â€“ 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. Thereâ€™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.
Itâ€™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 couldnâ€™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.