1st Edition

Designing the Olympics Representation, Participation, Contestation

By Jilly Traganou Copyright 2016
    364 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    364 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Designing the Olympics claims that the Olympic Games provide opportunities to reflect on the relationship between design, national identity, and citizenship. The "Olympic design milieu" fans out from the construction of the Olympic city and the creation of emblems, mascots, and ceremonies, to the consumption, interpretation, and appropriation of Olympic artifacts from their conception to their afterlife. Besides products that try to achieve consensus and induce civic pride, the "Olympic design milieu" also includes processes that oppose the Olympics and their enforcement.

    The book examines the graphic design program for Tokyo 1964, architecture and urban plans for Athens 2004, brand design for London 2012, and practices of subversive appropriation and sociotechnical action in counter-Olympic movements since the 1960s. It explores how the Olympics shape the physical, legal and emotional contours of a host nation and its position in the world; how the Games are contested by a broader social spectrum within and beyond the nation; and how, throughout these encounters, design plays a crucial role. Recognizing the presence of multiple actors, the book investigates the potential of design in promoting equitable political participation in the Olympic context.


    Section 1: Representation

    1. Through the Lens of Graphic Design: Nationalism, Internationalism, and Universalism in the Tokyo 1964 Design Program

    2. The Athens Olympic Sports Complex and National Narratives in Twenty-First-Century Greece: Representation and Beyond

    Section 2: Participation

    3. "Not for a Nation, But for the People": London 2012 Brand Design as a New Paradigm of Olympic Design

    4. Opposing the Olympic City: Designerly Ways of Dissenting

    Section 3: Contestation

    5. What If . . . ?: A Speculative Topography of Potential Olympic Futures



    Jilly Traganou is Associate Professor in Spatial Design Studies at Parsons School of Design, The New School, USA. She is the winner of the 2016 Design Incubation Award for Scholarship.

    "Designing the Olympics provides a groundbreaking look at the design milieu of the Olympic infrastructure. It successfully situates Olympic sociology within the range of creative practices that surround Olympic programming, which make manifest national priorities and narratives. It is an essential text for anyone who seeks to understand what the Olympic Games means to its host nations and to their global audiences."

    —Andy Miah, School of Creative Media, University of the West of Scotland

    "Designing the Olympics constitutes a watershed in Olympic sociology. It brings a critical design perspective to analyze how the Olympic Games constitutes national identity through architecture and design concepts. It will shape our understanding of 20th Century Games editions and should inform any course that hopes to make sense of the Olympics in the 21th century, where image and design are at the heart of the Games experience."

    —Beatriz Garcia, Sociology and Social Policy, University of Liverpool

    "This is an outstanding study of Olympics design that challenges the limits of representational theory. Drawing on a number of iconic case studies of Olympic design, Jilly Traganou’s book skillfully overcomes the perennial simplistic interpretation of the symbolic power of Olympic Games and rather highlights the practicalities in design making; the design milieus and platforms; the daily processes of participation and contestation. Beautifully written and well-researched, this book takes us into the heart of different Olympics games from the 1960s to our days by tracing their specific actor-worlds and following a multiplicity of actors’ voices. It provides a fascinating account of the pragmatist effects of Olympic design on our cities and nations.

    By addressing current scholarship not only in Design Studies, but also in Sport Studies, Anthropology, Material Culture, and Political Sciences, the book will appeal to an audience of both scholars and professionals within and beyond the field of design and architecture. To architecture, urban planning and urban design professionals with an interest in the social and political dimensions of their work, the book offers a wide range of precedents, fresh methodological insights and critical perspectives on the making of the Olympic Social. The book will also appeal to academic faculty members looking for ways to teach design and architecture beyond authorship and formalism, and political theory beyond policy and intentions, seeking instead to develop a more comprehensive perspective of design and the built environment in their complexity of material and political meanings."

    —Albena Yaneva, Professor of Architectural Theory, Director of the Manchester Architecture Research Centre, University of Manchester, UK

    "This is a must-read book for anyone interested in exploring narratives about the Olympic event. A lot has been written about the Olympics in relation to its past history and future challenges. But this book provides innovative perspectives in unpacking different dimensions of the Olympics through the element of design. While offering a rich text for the scholars from the field of Design Studies, the non-conventional understanding(s) of design as enunciating both material and non-material discourses has a lot to offer to scholars from a variety of disciplines such as the Olympic Studies, Sociology, History, Anthropology and more. The honest and reflexive writing style of the author captivates any reader to follow her Olympic journeys."

    —Dikaia Chatziefstathiou, Reader in Olympic Studies & the Social Analysis of Sport, Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, UK