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Setting the tones for a memorable Games

By Ma Zhenhuan | China Daily | Updated: 2023-09-22 09:36
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Visual design and color system tap into the unique landscapes, history and culture of the host city and the Jiangnan region

The mascots for the 19th Asian Games, the fan-shaped emblem of the event, the torch, and the medal design, not only fully encompass the unique aesthetics of the Games, but also those of the host city and of Jiangnan, the region south of the Yangtze River.

These designs showcase the characteristics of Hangzhou and China and contribute to a precious cultural and artistic legacy.

Song Jianming, a professor at the China Academy of Art, has been engaged in the overall visual image design of the Asian Games and the Asian Para Games, including the emblem, mascots, torches, medals and the pictograms representing the different events, as well as the Games' core graphics and color system.

"Showcasing Asian style, highlighting Chinese characteristics, and embodying the charm of distinctive Jiangnan culture are the three principles followed in the visual image design of the Asian Games," Song said.

Song added that the Asian Games is the largest comprehensive sports event in Asia, which means that the design should reflect the diverse cultural characteristics of all the competing countries and regions. Meanwhile, as the host of the 19th Asian Games, it is also necessary to demonstrate the poetic and aesthetic characteristics of Jiangnan.

As one of the main design elements, the emblem is not just the symbol of the event but also a foundation for the designs of other visual products, including the slogan and mascots. It was inspired by Hangzhou's natural landscapes, which feature unique Jiangnan characteristics, especially the river.

Rainbow Purple is the dominant color of the "Surging Tides" emblem. It was inspired by the great Tang Dynasty (618-907) poet Bai Juyi, as he says in Memories of Jiangnan, "At sunrise riverside flowers more red than fire; In spring green river waves grow as blue as sapphire."

Inspired by the main host city's rich heritage, designers of the mascots for the Games, Zhang Wen and Yang Yihong, made the trio of cute characters to represent the three UNESCO cultural heritage sites in Hangzhou.

Having lived in Hangzhou for more than 10 years, the two teachers at the Hangzhou-based China Academy of Art drew inspiration from every corner of the city and dug deep into the local culture, and that of the city.

Song said that the aesthetics of the current era not only feature local characteristics but also international ones, noting that beauty is a universal language.

"Creating a coherent aesthetics system for the Games is necessary for the world to remember the 19th Asian Games and the host city even after the event concludes."

When thinking of sports, images of physical fitness, agility and athletics are often invoked. The labeling of "aesthetics" comes more as an afterthought, a side effect of an athletic performance, rather than an imperative characteristic of sports.

According to the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC), the aesthetic system of the 19th Asian Games is a harmonious and unified cultural and artistic one, with features of the host city and invocations of the Olympic spirit.

The 1990 Beijing Asian Games let the world know about China in the early stages of reform and opening-up, as it was the first large-scale international sports event hosted by China. The 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games then showcased the country's remarkable ongoing development. Now, this year's Asian Games will enable the world to see the current confidence of the Chinese people, said Song.

Yang Meng, deputy director of the Press & Public Relations Department of the HAGOC, hailed the visual designs for the Games as the embodiment of the unique qualities of the city, such as the well-protected natural environment and the fast-developing internet industry.

"As the most important and direct visual element of the Asian Games, the mascots should be able to reflect the overall style of the 19th Asian Games, and also be creative and friendly. Factors such as 3D effects, materials, and marketing should also be put into consideration," Song said.

Almost everything about the host city — including its natural landscapes, history, culture, technology and people — is the source for the aesthetics of the Asian Games.

Visual elements such as the emblem, mascots, venue colors and sports pictograms, the most recognizable symbols of the event, are part of the system. What's more, cultural activities, ideology and merchandise also reflect the Games' aesthetics.

"Harmony of Colors" — The color system

Designer: Guo Jinyong, executive director of the Color Research Institute of the China Academy of Art, conceived the color system of the 19th Asian Games, under the theme "harmony of colors". It is inspired by a famous poem by Su Shi from the Song Dynasty (960-1279), which reads: "West Lake may be compared to Xi Shi (one of the "four beauties" in ancient China); Whether she is richly adorned or plainly dressed". Drawing on the essence of Chinese color culture and the characteristics of Hangzhou, the designers have developed a color system dominated by Rainbow Purple, and complemented by Glowing Red, Mist White, Laurus Yellow, Glimmering Blue, and Lake-and-Mountain Green, which altogether exquisitely depict lucid waters and lush mountains, and a vibrant city embracing innovation and sports.

Rainbow Purple is the dominant color of "Surging Tides", the emblem of the 19th Asian Games, a color implying reunion and unity, vibrancy and innovation. Imbued with the ethos of "the sun and the moon reflecting the glory of the new era", it conveys an auspicious and energetic image and underlines the visual identity of the 19th Asian Games.

Among the auxiliary colors, Glowing Red is inspired by transient twilight, Mist White by light ink wash painting, Laurus Yellow by laurel flowers and their fragrance, Glimmering Blue by clear skies and ripples in the water, and Lake-and-Mountain Green by the lush mountains and natural landscapes. Varying hues of the colors not only merge into each other, and are juxtaposed and overlap, but also add luster to the leading color of Rainbow Purple.

Fang Xiaoying in Hangzhou contributed to this story.

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