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Woe logo – the Osaka Expo goes googly-eyed

27 August 2020

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

‘A logo doesn’t sell (directly), it identifies.’ So wrote the American graphic designer Paul Rand, who designed longstanding logos for IBM, UPS, Yale University Press and many others. One wonders what he would have made of the freshly unveiled logo for the World Expo 2025, to be staged in Osaka. The design by Tamotu Shimada consists of an amorphous red ring, bedecked with what look like five googly eyes. It is meant to encapsulate the Expo’s theme of ‘Designing Future Society for Our Lives’; it looks like Argus Panoptes turned to mincemeat. Thus far, the logo has been described as a ‘meat donut’, been compared to creatures from horror films and video games, and inspired numerous arts and crafts pastiches:

The Osaka logo has put Rakewell in mind of other logos that have met with, well, fond derision at best. Not least of those is the logo for the London Olympics in 2012, a jagged, acidic rendering of ‘2012’ that irked some 49,000 people so much that they signed a petition to have it scrapped (it wasn’t). Launching that logo, the chairman of the London games, Sebastian Coe, admitted that ‘It [wouldn’t] be everybody’s taste immediately’ – an endorsement about as convincing as Dick Van Dyke doing a cockney accent.

The London logo was compared to everything from a jigsaw puzzle to the insignia of the Waffen SS to, yes, Lisa Simpson performing a sex act. Osaka, things could be worse.

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