Il-Ho Jung and Lukas Weber have a mutual fascination for soccer and design. They’re good friends, studied together, played soccer together, but never worked together. “We were super excited about this year’s World Cup,” says Weber, a partner at Made In – Franke/Rau/Weber Branding & Interactive Design in Frankfurt, Germany. “But we didn’t know how to show that excitement in our daily life.”
They realized that “in the U.S. fan-wear for the NBA, MLB, NHL is also street-wear while in Europe, the fan-wear isn’t very street-worthy. As a European, wearing Yankees-caps for example, is fashion.”
Based on this idea, Weber and company started a project to make soccer memorabilia “permanently street-worthy by designing them to be viewed as a longer lasting casual wear and not as a disposable item for a specific event.” We may have world cup fatigue, but design fatigue in Germany not an issue. Here Weber discusses the project, “World Caps”:
How many designers did you ask and what were the parameters?The only international designer we know is Jan Wilker (karlssonwilker). So it was obvious to ask him to do the USA logo. We also asked him to ask Lance Wyman for the Mexico logo because we’re huge fans of Wyman´s work (especially of his 68 Mexico Olympics job).
In retrospect and because of those two fantastic guest-appearances, we should’ve asked more designers. We probably would’ve had more diverse or unpredictable results or interpretations through the contribution of a lot more different people. Ideally, each guest designer would’ve had a connection to their specific land like Jan and Lance.
Nevertheless the participation of both is super exciting for us and makes us a little proud as well. With the beginning of our project we defined this proper (and typically German) set of design-parameters:
1) Create a Monogram using the FIFA-country codes.2) Place the Monogram in the form of a crest.3) Find your inspiration in all known (flags, coat of arms, logos of the football associations, team nicknames etc.) and unknown (fantasy clichés) symbols of the nations to finish the logo (Monogram + crest shape with illustrative additives (at least 1, at most an infinite number of illustrations) in the given grid (1600 x 800 px) to characterize the nation visually.4) Do not use soccer-specific symbols (Ball, Goal etc.).5) Design in a defined line-thickness (10 px) only.6) Use at least 1 and at most 3 colors:– All club logos should function in the end as an outline drawings and full-colored versions.– The crest shape should only consist of two different colors.– The illustrative additives can be in one additional color.
The design parameters and the conceptual idea are geared to treat all the participating countries equally by interpreting their symbols anew and handling them a bit more experimentally. We find the idea of exploring and sampling different symbols of nations (coat of arms, flag, football association logo, etc.) super exciting and also obvious in some way. Our aim is to respect all those traditional symbols by using them in a more “likable” way for everybody which results in a sportier and less competitive representation of the countries.
These logos are like coats of arms. Would you explain the symbolism of a few?Of course this is an interesting observation and not unrelated to our inspiration sources. Especially the coat of arms of the nations had a large place in our inspiration because we find them very fascinating and visually powerful. One could also say that our starting-point was like a kind of journey through a wide variety of countries on which we’ve “collected” a set of symbols and visual impressions to work with.
Some icons are rather unknown – both for average-joe as well as for designers –- others almost overused clichés. In general, it was exciting to rediscover those coat of arms to understand their primary symbols and put them into a new context. Sometimes we were really surprised by the elements we have found in all that.
For example, you have an unicorn in the coat of arms of England. That´s quite unexpected and probably not very noted, but we thought it should. So we had to use that element. In other cases you looked at the coat of arms of a nation and just couldn´t feel the image that they are trying to portray. There are countries with a huge variety of – let´s call them – “design-modules” because of their history, design-history or certain properties.
Other (mostly younger) nations like Bosnia and Herzegovina provide a less comprehensive world of design-elements. At this point things become pretty interesting because you start searching for different cultural and traditional foundations to design a suitable image. The fact that our club-logos resemble coat of arms in their appearance is perhaps bounded on clear design-principles (like in heraldry) to display an interaction of different facets and elements.
How did you determine what was accepted?Basically we would say almost everything was allowed. Of course, it was important to portray each country as authentically as possible. Each land should represent typical characteristics – either in it’s character traits or in formal aspects, if possible. Often it was about handling a set of known and unknown images and connecting them.
It was important for us that the final outcome is overall positive and “likable” — and not as heavy as a classical coat of arms. Our goal was showing a simple image through the monograms or the illustrative additives, or in best case through the interaction of both. For some countries, the club-logos are operating more concrete, while others are a little more abstract.
At this point, it was also important to have variety in the designs or the design elements and not to overuse specific shapes or principles. At the end of the day, we choose the impressions that we were most stoked on.
What are you doing with the hats?First of all, we’re super happy to have finished the project and to see the entire series – although if it would have been good to be done a bit earlier. We’ll try to catch the final euphoria – especially in Germany with the exhilaration of being world champions!
The good news is that our caps have appeal beyond the scope of the 2014 World Cup. We´ll showcase our project in different channels – for example in the context of soccer, lifestyle/fashion and of course design. We’re looking forward to the feedback to our project and we would be delighted
to attract people with our idea.
Furthermore, it would be also great to sell a few caps and make people happy. Anyway we would like to say thanks to everybody who supported this extensive project and made it possible!
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About Steven HellerSteven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →