Design and football, part of the evolution of the game – GAME OF THE PEOPLE

The dynamism of FOOTBALL has long been built around the involvement of spectators, colorful characters on and off the field and the exploitation of mass media. The game’s marketing revolved around these elements and other more peripheral aspects such as iconography, typography and visual identity were influenced by four elements: club crests; club bands; the story; and club houses, stadiums. These have long been the visual representation of virtually every institution in football and as a result, when a club alters one of them, it is usually accompanied by protests or dissatisfaction from the fans.

The Design Museum in London is currently organizing an interesting exhibition entitled Design the beautiful game which examines the different ways football has presented itself over the decades. It’s a colorful and fascinating walk through the history of the game, including the growing audacity of stadiums, the innovation of individuals trying to challenge the status quo, and the growing prioritization of finance.

As we begin with heartwarming Pathé films of handcrafted soccer balls and examples of footwear more suited to heavy construction work than sport, we move on through exhibits of this great symbol of commercial opportunism. , the ever-changing football shirt, to see models and photos of stadiums far removed from the traditional arena, such as Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena, the Stamford Bridge reconstruction project and the sheer brutalism and beauty of San Siro of AC Milan or the incredible structure of Braga in Portugal. The work of architects such as Herzog & de Meuron and Populous took football stadium ideas to an unprecedented level.

World Cup posters were one of the first printed products to combine art and football. Look at the early posters of the 1930s and they cannot be confused with any other period, likewise in the 1950s they are very representative of their era. While these works of art were, in their own way, the future, the rest of football at the time was still stuck in its fairly parochial past.

In the early 1970s, Coventry City pushed the boundaries further than any other club with their match schedules. Conceived by a John Elvin, who had been poached after producing West Bromwich Albion’s ALBION NEWS, Coventry’s SKY BLUE was imaginative, exciting and so far ahead of its time. In fact, today’s football programs lack the vision of Elvin’s work and are full of clichés, commercial intent and carefully cultivated messages. The Design Museum pays tribute to Coventry City’s work by recalling how forward-looking the club was in its heyday.

More recently, clubs have recognized the need to present their identity in the form of a corporate logo, getting rid of historical but complex heraldry and introducing easily recognizable and eye-catching badges, a trend that started in the 1970s. But in an age of instant gratification and distraction, the simpler the image, the easier it is to remember. Juventus’ badge redesign is a great example of brand identification transformation, their ‘J’ has become a form of corporate identification that can be replicated easily across media, products and digital content . Not everyone likes it, traditionalists are always likely to complain about it, but Juventus have almost appropriated the letter J in Italy.

The design undoubtedly moves football into a new space, although some of the football kits being produced might suggest that the creativity sometimes goes a bit too far. But in many other ways it makes for a more spectacular game, though those in control of the purse string would be wise to make sure that beneath the gloss and artistry there is real substance.

The exhibition runs until August 29 at the Design Museum, Kensington High Street, London.

published by Neil Fredrik Jensen

Game of the People was founded in 2012 and is ranked in the top 100 football websites by various sources. The site regularly wins awards for its work, on a wide range of topics.


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