By Jef Catapang
It’s safe to say Hulse & Durrell is going down in Olympic design history. For the past two years the Vancouver design team, comprised of Ben Hulse and Greg Durrell, has been busy building a licensing program for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) based on historical Olympic artwork. Dubbed “Heritage,” the program will give major brands license to create clothes and products bearing the iconic identities of games past.
The project hasn’t been easy, and it isn’t over. The process of digging through the IOC’s archives, scanning and retracing old emblems, illustrations and more proved more extensive and painstaking than Hulse & Durrell initially thought. Despite its nightmare scope (thousands of work hours, hundreds of travel hours, the creation of a research document clocking in at 350+ pages and counting), it’s a dream project for the team, who met while working on the design team of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.
Since then, they’ve also collaborated on rebranding efforts for Curling Canada and Swimming Canada, making them the perfect studio to tackle the task. Over three months, Designedge kept in touch to see how the project was progressing. Here are some excerpts from these discussions and emails.
As Hulse & Durrell took a deeper look at the IOC’s files of emblems, pictograms, mascots etc., they discovered the archive was riddled with inconsistencies—from type that had mysteriously morphed over time from artifact to artifact, to issues with faded colours, modified mascots, and more. What was already a sizable digitization project turned into a massive undertaking of restoring integrity to the designs and making sure Heritage, and the IOC records moving forward, reflected the true intentions of the games’ original designers.
Ben Hulse: We arguably went too far with this [laughs]. For example, on Moscow 1980, when we knew it was Futura that was used, we didn’t just type in ‘Futura’ and call it a day. We actually over-layed it over top of the old metal type and saw that the cut of Futura was a little bit different than what was being used in Russia at that time. So we modified the characters to respect the type that would have been created in the late ’70s.
Greg Durrell: A lot of these games didn’t have graphics standards manuals, so we didn’t necessarily have the right blueprints to go from.
BH: L.A. ’84 was kind of turning point in how we approached the recreation and digitization of the assets, in that instead of just tracing the pictograms, Greg actually thought about how they would have been created back in the early ’80s with protractors and compasses. Instead of tracing, everything was created with pure geometry.
GD: It wasn’t about, ‘How do we use Illustrator to recreate these elements?’ It was more about, ‘How do we authentically recreate it?’ When we recreated the Paris 1924 logo, knowing that that would have been drawn by hand, we made sure that logo had a bit more grit to it. It looks almost like you can feel the pen strokes.
Hulse & Durrell visit Lausanne, Switzerland to research colour palettes
[Click thumbnails to view gallery. Images via Greg Durrell]
Colour correction presented its own unique problems.
GD: If you take 20 programs from Tokyo 1954 and you line them up on a table, all the reds are different. A lot of these games were printing things well before Pantone. Markus [Osterwalder] has some great resources that haven’t seen much light and have been fairly well preserved, so we worked from those as much as possible.
BH: We [could have] 20 different sources, the official poster, tickets and programs, and official reports. We had the fortune to work from a lot of different sources and split the difference in some cases.
One of the most valuable resources was Swiss designer Markus Osterwalder, owner of the largest private collection of Olympic design. Not only did Osterwalder open up his archives for research, his design knowledge made him a key consultant.
GD: This project really couldn’t have happened without him. He started collecting Olympic design when he visited Lillehammer in ’94, and he’s been to every games since then. He has 30,000 design objects. Ben and I were on the design team for the Vancouver Olympics and he has stuff that we don’t even have, which is pretty crazy!
BH: He has a real sense for colour, because he is a designer, and so he was really able to help ensure that we were representing each Games edition with the decisions we were making… Markus is a really great guy and the first Skype call we had with him was two or three hours long. We had a lot of things to share with each other, and a lot of stories to share [too]. And of course he’s such a huge fan of the Games so he had a lot of questions for us about the Vancouver design, so over the course of days and weeks we just developed a bit of a relationship.
Osterwalder’s collection included the graphics standards manual for the ’72 Munich games, which Hulse & Durrell referred to as “the Holy Grail.”
GD: I had never seen one in my lifetime, and it took him nearly 20 years to find it. It’s an extremely rare printed document and obviously that games in particular had a huge impact on what happened for [Olympic design] moving forward.
They designed product mockups to inspire the types of clothes and wares that brands could produce under the Heritage program.
GD: The guidelines we’ve been working on will be distributed to everyone from Nike to Adidas to Lacoste. They’ll be sold in various different countries and also the new Olympic website that we’re working on. The IOC has been negotiating all of these territorial contracts…but it’s highly complicated and there’s a lot of money and stakeholders involved so it’s taking awhile to get this off the ground.
BH: For example, it would be Adidas potentially activating on this in Canada, and it would be Nike potentially activating on this in the States in the sportswear categories–because in Canada the license is owned by Adidas and in the States it’s Nike. In the States there’s also Ralph Lauren that owns a different category, while in Canada it’s HBC. So it’s a very complex situation.
When creating the gold emblem for the Heritage program, Hulse & Durrell found the perfect typeface—perhaps a sign that all of this was meant to be.
GD: The primary typeface is Akzidenz Grotesk. Not only does this neutral typeface pair well with a wide variety of different Olympic art and design styles across many decades, it was released in 1896, which is also the first year the modern Olympic Games were re-established in Athens, Greece. This kind of poetry was impossible for us to pass up. •
A version of this article originally appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of Designedge Canada magazine.пр кампания это