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8 Design Highlights From The 2012 Olympics

With the Closing Ceremony behind us, we look back at the best art, design, and architecture inspired by the London Olympics.

  • <p>The <a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1664029/london-olympic-torch-revealed-and-it-s-a-blingy-beaut" target="_self">official Olympic torch</a>, by industrial design studio BarberOsgerby, might resemble a blingy cheese grater, but it looks that way for a reason: The 8,000 holes make the object lighter than a traditional solid metal torch and help heat dissipate quickly so that torchbearers don’t burn their hands. In a symbolic sense, the perforations also represent the 8,000 people who carried the torch.</p>
  • <p>NBCOlympics.com is a nightmare to navigate. Luckily, a handful of talented designers and developers stepped in and created their own <a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670434/the-trend-for-london-2012-super-minimal-olympic-sites" target="_self">websites, which use crisp, clean design to convey the most relevant Olympic news</a>. Best part: No ads!</p>
  • <p>Nike took a break from plastering its swoosh on every last square inch of London to develop a few cool custom products: These <a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670404/nike-s-olympic-gear-for-athletes-without-countries#3" target="_self">uniforms for athletes without countries</a> …</p>
  • <p>… and these <a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670487/how-nike-made-track-spikes-for-oscar-pistorius-s-carbon-fiber-blades" target="_self">track spikes for the carbon-fiber blades of amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius</a>.</p>
  • <p>Wrestling with your conscience, running around like a headless chicken, shooting yourself in the foot: These are the mundane "athletics" we participate in daily. But do <em>we</em> get a massive international competition and ceremony? No! To compensate, London-based Hat-Trick designed a series of pictograms depicting the unsung "Olympic Non-Events" that take place in offices and homes the world over.</p>
  • <p>And here, Gustavo Sousa uses <a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670344/infographics-using-the-olympic-rings-to-show-vast-inequalities#3" target="_self">subtly shifting Olympic rings to compare statistics between participating continents</a>. The visualizations reveal vast inequalities in everything from income to health.</p>
  • <p>London built plenty of beautiful new structures for the Olympics (like <a href="http://www.dezeen.com/2011/02/25/london-2012-velodrome-by-hopkins-architects/" target="_blank">Hopkins’s stunning wood-clad Velodrome</a>), but <a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1669263/olympics-shooting-gallery-looks-like-a-giant-octopus#1" target="_self">this shooting gallery</a>, by Berlin-based Magma Architecture, gets our vote because A) it’s really fun and B) it circumvents one of the biggest problems of Olympic buildings: finding a use for them <em>after</em> the Games. The gallery was designed to be easily dismantled, and the site, the Royal Artillery Barracks, will be returned to its original condition.</p>
  • <p>Yes, the logo sucks violently. But the strategy behind it? Not half bad. <a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670429/the-surprisingly-smart-strategy-behind-london-s-infamous-olympic-branding#1" target="_self">Read on here</a>.</p>
  • 01 /08 | Olympic torch

    The official Olympic torch, by industrial design studio BarberOsgerby, might resemble a blingy cheese grater, but it looks that way for a reason: The 8,000 holes make the object lighter than a traditional solid metal torch and help heat dissipate quickly so that torchbearers don’t burn their hands. In a symbolic sense, the perforations also represent the 8,000 people who carried the torch.

  • 02 /08 | Minimal websites

    NBCOlympics.com is a nightmare to navigate. Luckily, a handful of talented designers and developers stepped in and created their own websites, which use crisp, clean design to convey the most relevant Olympic news. Best part: No ads!

  • 03 /08 | Nike uniforms for countryless athletes

    Nike took a break from plastering its swoosh on every last square inch of London to develop a few cool custom products: These uniforms for athletes without countries

  • 04 /08 | Nike track spikes for Oscar Pistorius

    … and these track spikes for the carbon-fiber blades of amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius.

  • 05 /08 | Olympic non-event pictograms

    Wrestling with your conscience, running around like a headless chicken, shooting yourself in the foot: These are the mundane "athletics" we participate in daily. But do we get a massive international competition and ceremony? No! To compensate, London-based Hat-Trick designed a series of pictograms depicting the unsung "Olympic Non-Events" that take place in offices and homes the world over.

  • 06 /08

    And here, Gustavo Sousa uses subtly shifting Olympic rings to compare statistics between participating continents. The visualizations reveal vast inequalities in everything from income to health.

  • 07 /08 | Shooting gallery at the Royal Artillery Barracks

    London built plenty of beautiful new structures for the Olympics (like Hopkins’s stunning wood-clad Velodrome), but this shooting gallery, by Berlin-based Magma Architecture, gets our vote because A) it’s really fun and B) it circumvents one of the biggest problems of Olympic buildings: finding a use for them after the Games. The gallery was designed to be easily dismantled, and the site, the Royal Artillery Barracks, will be returned to its original condition.

  • 08 /08

    Yes, the logo sucks violently. But the strategy behind it? Not half bad. Read on here.

Yes, there’s plenty to bitch about: the tape delays, the bizarre decision to not air the 7/7 tribute in the United States, the inexplicable popularity of McKayla Is Not Impressed. (People: That meme doesn’t even work. McKayla looks disappointed in that photograph, not unimpressed. Let’s get our gymnasts’ barely suppressed emotions right!) But in the design arena, the London Olympics rate pretty highly in our book. It wasn’t just the usual stuff, like the slick athlete uniforms and the glittering new sports venues. It was the unofficial design, too—the infographics and websites and graphic-design icons designers all over the world felt inspired to whip up. We’ve been cataloging excellent Olympic-themed design over the past few months. Here, we round up our top scorers. May the best grids and I-beams win!

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