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Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Festive Federalism" at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics

photo credit: sussmanprejza.com






















"Festive Federalism" is the term coined by designer Deborah Sussman to describe the colors, design, and graphics her firm developed for the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.

photo credit: sussmanprejza.com















Twenty-eight years ago, the eyes of the world were on Los Angeles, host of the Olympic Games. The design firm of Sussman/Prejza, working in partnership with architectural firm The Jerde Partnership, created a unique, bold look that helped bring together the city like never before - and never since. 

photo credit: www.wallpaper.com
















Above: outside the Los Angeles Memorial Collisium. Last week I shared some thoughts of being in the city for the 1984 Olympics (here's a link to that post). 


photo credit: www.la84foundation.org






















What absolutely impressed almost everyone in Los Angeles - as well as across the country and around the world - were the colors and inovative designs of of the 28 different Olympic venues. Actuallly, looking at the images off the designers' websites, they still impress. 

photo credit: sussmanprejza.com
According to the Sussman/Prejza website: "Sussman/Prejza and The Jerde Partnership were co-design directors in creating the ‘look’ of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, a massive undertaking that encompassed forty-three art sites, twenty-eight game venues and three villages. 

photo credit: jerde.com

































"The designers worked together to create a “kit-of-parts” visual alphabet that could be adapted with flair to the disparate venues. 


photo credit: www.la84foundation.org




















"Hot graphic colors, iconic geometries, and ephemeral materials were fused together to transform the city of Los Angeles.

                                      photo credit: sussmanprejza.com

"As a matter of practicality, S/P’s design also included a wayfinding and identification system that directed spectators from the highways to their seats. 



photo credit: www.la84foundation.org























"This system included vehicular and pedestrian wayfinding signs, transportation signs, facility identification signs, and graphics."
photo credit: sussmanprejza.com

From another site, ginormus.blogspot.com: "Festive Federalism, a term coined to reflect the graphics program for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, is reflected here in the color palette and an image of one of the many dimensional stars located throughout the city. 

   photo credit: jerde.com



"This was where we all heard the word Sonotube for the first time!"

photo credit: jerde.com

















Here's what Michael Bierut from observatory.designobserver.com had to say: "Trust Los Angeles to finally understand how to stage a modern Olympics: design it to be seen on television. 

www.la84foundation.org























"So out with the costly white elephants of permanent venues built of steel and concrete: Deborah Sussman and Jon Jerde, working on a tight schedule and a tighter budget, led a team of designers that created one of the most cohesive Olympic design schemes ever.





















photo credit: sussmanprejza.com
































"It was all Hollywood stagecraft, including fabric banners, painted cardboard shipping tubes and what was reportedly all the aluminum scaffolding west of the Mississippi.

photo credit: sussmanprejza.com


"The dazzling color scheme of the 1984 LA games, which Sussman dubbed "festive Federalism" was purportedly based on the hot pinks and oranges of Southern California and Baja Mexico, but looked to American designers like a hyped-up reiteration of the prevailing West Coast design aesthetic led by Michael Vanderbyl and April Greiman. And why not? It was the ultimate California moment.

photo credit: sussmanprejza.com
"Sussman's brilliant success had a not-so-brilliant aftermath, as dozens of designers, developers, and local Chambers of Commerce burghers realized that they had been delivered a formula for civic identity on the cheap. This led to a "festive" profusion of garish banners and over-decorated wayfinding systems in every down-on-its-luck shopping mall and town square in America, all of whom hung the crepe and waited for a Hollywood close up that would never come."


photo credit: sussmanprejza.com


Design firm Sussman/Prejza and architectual fim The Jerde Partnership have gone on to create numerous other projects - both in Los Angeles and around the world. A reminder that Los Angeles' cultural impact isn't just limited to television and movies. 


photo credit: www.la84foundation.org














Los Angeles, Tokyo, New York, Paris, Beijing, London. Great cities do great things. Things like host the Olympic Games. By the way, I'm sure New York City would like to add the Oympics to their city's list of impressive accomplishments. 


photo credit: www.la84foundation.org


























Here's hoping that Sussman/Prejza and The Jerde Partnership will be called upon again when Los Angeles hosts the Olympic Games for a possible third time


Below, a final image from the Olympic Tower in Los Angeles, 1984: 

photo credit: sussmanprejza.com









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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

GOOD collection of LA84 photos. Think it worked well here because it was all temporary.

Anonymous said...

the 1980'/s were great!!

Anonymous said...

Temporary is right. I remember right after the Olympics in 1984 everyone wanted the banners to stay up for good. They started looking really ratty after just a few weeks after the Games - and came down.

Great two weeks for Los Angeles.

It would be wonderful to have them back for a three-peat.

Anonymous said...

Woa! that brings back memories. All the pastels are totally 80s. Amazing how the graphics and colors can look so much like coming from a certain decade.

Augast koth said...

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Shulamit said...

These are excellent. I stumbled upon your blog randomly today. I am so happy to find these pictures. Do you have any photos of the big helium balloons that were above each of the venues, to help people parking far away, know which direction to walk?

I worked on them, and the guy on our team who took all the pictures, lost them! It would be SO wonderful to have even a not-so-great picture of one of those balloons up in the sky.

They were white balloons with broken stripes painted in the 1984 LA Olympic colors, wrapping horizontally around them. They were about 12 feet in diameter. Not special enough for anyone to publish a picture, but very special to me!

David from L.A. said...

@ Shulamit - hope you're able to find photos of those balloons elsewhere. With the exception of a single personal photo, everything else was pulled from other websites.

David from L.A.