008 How and why I refused to accept the modified design – vol.2

This chapter on “How and why I refused to accept the modified design” could not be contained within the word count I have set for a single blog posting, and is posted in two segments: 007 (vol.1) and 008 (vol.2)

In my blog post 007, I gave an account of what took place up to the point when my refusal to give approval to the modified logo design was revealed at the press conference given by the Organization Committee. For this post, 008, based on records of meetings that took place between myself and the Organization Committee, as one of the actual parties involved, I will give an account of what led me to refuse the modified design, and state my reasons for making that decision. What follows is a record of the two meetings I had with the Organization Committee regarding the modified design plan. It is an excerpt from my own notes, “Records of Meetings” that I put down after each meeting—intuition told me that I must keep a record.

Records of the First Meeting
On May 13, 2015, two people, Mr. Takuma Takasaki (who is creative director for the Organization Committee for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo and also serves as a member of the panel to select the official emblem. He is here this time in his capacity as creative director for the Organization Committee, as can be seen from the contents of the meeting) and an official from the Organization Committee visit me at my office. Prior to making scheduling arrangements for this visit, there has been no contact from the Organizing Committee. Half a year has passed since the screening took place, with no updates as to the vetting process that was supposedly going on after the judging. I have been told absolutely nothing, until this day. At the beginning of the meeting, they show me a modified version of the Olympic logo design that was selected as the winning entry. Mr. Takasaki explains how this modified version came to be; I am told (the committee) is seeking my approval for the modified design. The Organization Committee tells me for the first time that the design which came in first place, was in fact, designed by Kenjiro Sano. The modified emblem plan is an A4 size printout. They show me another printout with the words “TOKYO TEAM TOMORROW” which seems to be some kind of ad copy. I listen to the story behind the documents. I am told that the design modifications were carried out by the two, Mr. Takasaki and Mr. Sano.

I refuse to approve the modified design. “As it is completely different from the design that we selected, there is no way I can allow this.” (…) “In the modified version the ‘T’ is obscured, it looks as if an ‘L’ was added. The message and the intent of the design is unclear—isn’t that going to confuse the viewer? How do you justify the part that looks like an ‘L’?—if the intent cannot be visualized through the graphic image that means its function as an icon is lost. If it doesn’t function, it fails as a logo.” (…) “Why did two people, Mr. Takasaki and Mr. Sano, modify the design? That really baffles me as a judge on the panel.” (…) “At the actual screening, we chose the design with the stylized capital ‘T’ and ‘P’ as the winning design. But in the modified version the ‘P’ is gone. Furthermore, the concept ‘TOKYO TEAM TOMORROW’ was not submitted at the time of the screening; which means it was added ex post facto. So this is a completely different design plan from the one chosen at the screening. Please explain the reason why this happened.” (…) To my comments and questions, Mr. Takasaki describes specific reasons that led to the modification on the design of the emblem for the Paralympic Games. Yet there is no explanation on how the modified version for the Olympic Games ended up with a form that looks like an ‘L’. He insists and sticks to the explanation that there were some problems in regards to the registered trademark inquiry. After listening to the reasons behind the modifications of the Paralympics logo, I state my strong opposition: “(The modified version of) the emblem for the Paralympics looks nothing like the original. It is something completely different. This is a desecration of design. As a judge I refuse to accept such nonsense. I think we should postpone the announcement and reconsider.” (…) I give my opinion: “Instead of Mr. Takasaki and Mr. Sano going ahead with modifications, there must be some other way. For example, we can still go back to the original design, consult with the judge on the panel who specializes in graphic design and seek ways to modify the design. That said, we still have time; and again, all we have to do is to postpone the announcement. Please reconsider other methods.” The meeting ends without making any headway.
(From “Records of Meetings”)

During the meeting that was held this day, I heard the reasons behind the design modifications for the Paralympic Games logo. I decline to comment on the reasons in this blog. As for the “reasons for modification on the emblem for the Paralympic Games” nothing was said at the press conference. However, in my view, it is a serious matter—something that cannot be ignored. If the “reasons for modification on the emblem for the Paralympic Games” I heard are indeed true, I feel it is an issue that affects the submission criteria for the upcoming screening. But in the “Announcement of the Tokyo 2020 Emblem Designs Competition” that was revealed on October 16, 2015, there is no note related to the “reasons for modification on the emblem for the Paralympic Games”—a design which was scrapped. It is possible that the logo selection committee is not aware of the facts behind this matter. I propose a thorough investigation to shed light on the facts and call for prompt action.

Records of the Second Meeting
July 8, 2015. Mr. Takuma Takasaki visits the office alone. The official who was there for the meeting on May 13 is away on a business trip abroad. I am told that all seven judges on the panel with the exception of myself, have approved the modified version.  The modified design is the same one I saw on May 13, at the previous meeting. No consideration seems to have been given to my opposition nor the proposals I made at the last meeting. I am shown documents listing when and to whom the modified design was submitted; how many modifications were applied. It is a detailed account that follows the modification process, accompanied by a timeline. I listen to the journey from original design to the modified draft, based on these documents.

I refuse to give my approval to the modified design. “I heard nothing for six months after the competition. While I was left out in the cold, you go ahead and modify the logo design on your own, and then show up to give a report of the outcome and expect me to give my approval. That is impossible.” (…) “Then what was that competition for? There were 103 other entrants who trusted the panel of judges with their designs. How am I to face them?” (…) “(The modified design) may be close but basically different from the design that was chosen through the selection process. The concept is an afterthought. I never saw the ad copy at the time of the screening.” (…) “Finally, I must say that the modification of the Paralympic Games logo, is nothing but devious.” (…) “How can I accept this? It is unthinkable. As a member of the panel of judges, there is no way I can approve of this. You must postpone the announcement and reconsider. I won’t ever change my opinion.” (…) I raise the question: “The explanatory diagram that was included in the submission board for the Olympic Games logo entry, at least to me, seemed like it was made by a typographer, a specialist; the formatting seemed very professional. If so, maybe the designer worked with someone else? If so, he broke the rules. Actually, the design that came in first place, does not correspond to the character nor the style of the designer, as far as I can tell.” Mr. Takasaki says: “I assure you. That was created by Mr. Sano on his own. There is no question about that.” Mr. Takasaki wants to walk me through the presentation plan for the press conference scheduled for July 24. He has the papers ready and wants to explain the contents. I tell him: “If I see the plans beforehand, that is like sealing the deal—giving my approval. So I won’t look at the plans.” I refuse to confirm the documents. Finally, I am told that “we can not change the date of press release, for any reason. So we would like to go ahead with the modified plan.” That is the final conclusion—what the Organization Committee has already decided. (…) I tell him: “Whatever the circumstances, I believe that you must not release the modified design.” Again, the meeting ends without making any headway. 
(From “Records of Meetings”)

This is the record of my two meetings regarding the modification of the Olympic logos.

Keiko Hirano

Keiko Hirano:
Designer/Visioner, Executive Director of Communication Design Laboratory
Hirano served on the panel that chose the official emblem for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which was ultimately withdrawn.