Friday, May 21, 2010

What's up with the taxi light?

It's funny that not long after I put up the last post about farfetched references and literal design, London announced their 2012 Olympic mascot Wenlock, and Paralympic mascot Mandeville. I actually think they are pretty cute looking. But when I started to read the description, I couldn't stop laughing.

From the statement of the designer iris: "Wenlock and Mandeville were created from the last drops of steel left over from the construction of the final support girder for the Olympic Stadium."
Some of the design features include:
- The headlight is the hire light of a hackney carriage – a London icon. (Really? That's the best you can do to relate to London?)
- The eye is a camera lens, allowing them to record their journeys. (Big Brother is watching...)
- The Olympic mascot wears the 5 Olympic rings as friendship bands, while the Paralympic mascot wears a personal best wristwatch which also displays the year of the games. (I thought Britney was cheesy.)
- The three peaks on the Olympic mascot were inspired by the 2012 stadium roof, while the Paralympic’s head shape has been inspired by the agitos – the symbol of the paralympic movement.
- The colour of the Olympic mascot shimmers through golds, silver and bronzes to reflect the colour of the medals. (Yes, because they are as slick as Zaha's renderings!)

Olympic mascots can be traced back to 1932, when "Smoky" the dog was born just before the games in the LA Olympic Village. The first mascot officially designed for the Olympic Games was Waldi, a German breed Dachshund dog, of the Munich 1972 Games. Since then, every Olympic Games would pick a mascot to reflect the identity of the host city and represent Olympic ideals.

Smoky, 1932, Los Angeles

Waldi (Dachshund dog), Munich 1972
Amik (beaver), Montreal 1976
Misha (Russian bear cub), Moscow 1980
Sam (bald eagle), Los Angeles 1984
Hodori (tiger cub), Seoul 1988
Cobi (a Cubist Catalan sheepdog), Barcelona 1992
Izzy (?), Atlanta 1996
Syd (Platypus), Millie (Echidna), Olly (Kookaburra), Sydney 2000
Phevos and Athena (brother and sister resembling ancient Greek dolls) , Athens 2004
Fuwa: Beibei (fish), Jingjing (giant panda), Huanhuan (Olympic flame), Yingying (Tibetan antelope), and Nini (swift), Beijing 2008

It seems a local animal would be an easy choice. In some cases this would also mean a national symbol, like a beaver, a bald eagle, or a panda. I like it better when there's also a hint of local history and culture. For example Cobi, designed by artist Javier Mariscal for the Barcelona Olympics, relates to Catalunya as a local sheepdog. And on top of that, you can see a (not-so-literal) touch of Cubist style that resembles Picasso's artworks.

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