The 3D birth of the Olympic logo

The 2016 Rio Olympics has proudly displayed its logo, but have you noticed anything different? It’s the first Olympic emblem to be produced in three dimensions.

Inevitably 3D printing played a part, but the designers couldn’t simply get carried away with three-dimensional ideas. The logo is an essential part of the games that has to capture the spirit of the host country and competition all in one.

“I thought it would be impossible”, said Tatil Design’s creative director Frederico Gelli.

The logo was as competitive as the games

It was a competition, so there really wasn’t a brief. As with the Olympic Games themselves, the competitors were invited to give it their best shot and there would be only one winner.

The agency that came up with that perfect concept at the perfect time would take the title and become the creative consultancy that made the logo for the Olympics.

Tatil Design has released its story as a compelling video and it’s fascinating to hear the thought process that went in to this project.

The team spent two months brainstorming and came up with a concept for a logo that truly captures the spirit of the games. When Gelli went for a swim on Ipanema beach, he dived into the water and a moment of inspiration struck when he surfaced and saw the hills and mountains hugging the city.

Capturing the spirit of Rio

Gelli wanted to incorporate the famous Brazilian hospitality and the indomitable spirit of the people that have endured great hardship and always seem to offer a smile.

In total there were 12 separate subjects that Gelli wanted to address, which could easily have made a cluttered and confused logo.

The team were desperate to do justice to the event and they wanted to have an impact on their own people. The whole company pitched in and everybody wanted to be involved.

There is a true sense of unity in Rio de Janaeiro, or ‘collectivity’ as they call it. Everybody has hard times and the city itself has problems, but the people from different backgrounds are united.

A great responsibility

People even gave their lives building the stadiums and Gelli felt a great sense of responsibility to do the best job possible. The team also wanted to capture the essence of the Cariocas. They listened to local music, visited the landmarks and looked at them with fresh eyes. They even learned new things along the way.

“Many logos were created and destroyed along the way,” admits one of the design team. Another admits they tried 150 different fonts before they decided that none of them worked and they had to make their own.

Then they distilled the essence of Rio into a simple concept. “It had to be a sculptural logo, because Rio is a sculptural city,” said Gelli. “It has to be a great experience. It had to be visual, it had to be tactile and it needed to inspire people.”

The birth of the embrace

He set to work with pen, paper and then the 3D printer to create the ‘embrace’, the central graphic with no beginning and no end. It perfectly encapsulates the unity of Rio and it incorporates Sugarloaf Mountain and it provides motion.

The motion comes from the position, which in turn comes from the three-dimensional aspect. If one character is removed, then the others fall and if you look really close you can even see a heart, celebration and so much more.

It’s art. It’s precise enough to be suggestive and vague enough to allow your own interpretation. It allows the visually impaired athletes in the Paralympics to truly feel what they’re fighting for and it gives the city a symbol that represents their very core.

Hearing the work, passion and dedication that goes into creating an Olympic logo is humbling in itself. And it simply couldn’t have happened without 3D printing. So we should all feel like winners when we look at this logo.