Designs shaping the identity of the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics 2022

As China’s capital becomes the first city to host both Summer and Winter Games, STIR takes a look at the branding and design projects that have helped bring the event to life.

by STIRworldPublished on : Feb 11, 2022

"Together for a Shared Future" is the official motto of the Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games 2022, making China’s capital the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games after its first outing in 2008. While the event is still subject to a number of pandemic-induced curbs - such as the restriction of spectators and absence of certain nations, much like the Tokyo Olympics 2020 last year, the Games themselves have gotten off to a rollicking start. The 24th edition of the Winter Olympics in Beijing kicked off with a dazzling opening ceremony on February 4, which was directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, who was also responsible for the festivities that rang in the 2008 Summer Games.

  • The National Stadium in Beijing was lit up by performances and LED light displays | Design at the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 | STIRworld
    The National Stadium in Beijing was lit up by performances and LED light displays Image: © CNOSF / KMSP
  • Fireworks illuminated the night sky over Beijing during the course of the ceremony | Design at the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 | STIRworld
    Fireworks illuminated the night sky over Beijing during the course of the ceremony Image: © CNOSF / KMSP

A giant snowflake was the centrepiece for most of the event, precariously poised at the heart of the National Stadium in Beijing - also known as the ‘Bird’s Nest’ due to its unique façade design by Swiss architecture practice Herzog & de Meuron. Massive displays of LED lights and screens were accompanied by fireworks and performances which lit up the stage and sky - in a celebration of art, design, technology, and culture that aimed to resonate with millions of viewers worldwide. With the programme of sporting events currently in full swing, STIR presents a curated selection of design endeavours that have contributed to forging the identity and atmosphere surrounding this year’s Winter Olympic Games.

Olympic Medals - Tong Xin

  • Named ‘Tong Xin’, the Olympic medals feature five concentric rings inlaid with traditional Chinese patterns, inspired by jade pendants
    Named ‘Tong Xin’, the Olympic medals feature five concentric rings inlaid with traditional Chinese patterns, inspired by jade pendants Image: © Beijing 2022
  • The Beijing 2022 emblem is inscribed at the centre of the medals' rear faces
    The Beijing 2022 emblem is inscribed at the centre of the medals' rear faces Image: © Beijing 2022
  • Exhibiting concave profiles, the medals are engraved with patterns depicting ice and snow
    Exhibiting concave profiles, the medals are engraved with patterns depicting ice and snow Image: © Beijing 2022

Based on ancient Chinese concentric jade circle pendants, the medals for this edition feature a design that celebrates Beijing's unique position as the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Composed of five concentric rings, representing those of the Olympic emblem, within a round profile that references the jade-inlaid medal design from the 2008 Games, this year’s medals have been named Tong Xin - meaning "together as one", reflecting the event’s underlying theme and motto. The inlaid rings themselves exhibit a concave profile, with traditional Chinese patterns inspired by ice, snow, and wind carved into them. At the centre of the medal is the Olympic emblem, with 'XXIV Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022' engraved around it.

Winter Olympics Torch

  • The 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic torch
    The 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic torch Image: © Beijing 2022
  • The design is powered by a hydrogen fuel source | Design at the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 | STIRworld
    The design is powered by a hydrogen fuel source Image: © IOC/Milos Bicanski
  • The Olympic torch design this year enables relay participants to directly transfer flames between them | Design at the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 | STIRworld
    The Olympic torch design this year enables relay participants to directly transfer flames between them Image: © IOC/Greg Martin

An enduringly iconic element of the Olympic Games, and a strong contributor to the mounting hype and anticipation preceding each edition, the Olympic torch has always presented an opportunity for product designers and host nations to put their own spin on this age-old tradition. Selected from 182 entries in a global design competition, this year’s torch named 飞扬” (fēi yáng) was designed by Li Jianye, with a lightweight carbon-fibre body and a hydrogen fuel source to adhere to the environmentally-conscious path that the Olympic Games have adopted in recent years. Red and silver are the primary colours employed to symbolise ice and fire in the design. The torch’s form resembles a twirling ribbon that winds around the Olympic flame, with the spiralling red accent that references the Great Wall of China. One particularly intriguing aspect of the design is its ability to transfer flames between wielders during the relay, by simply interlocking the ends of the ribbons.

Mascots - Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon

Embodying China's national animal and one of its most widely recognised cultural exports in the Chinese lantern, 'Bing Dwen Dwen' and 'Shuey Rhon Rhon' are the mascots for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The former is a giant panda dressed in a full body shell made of ice, reminiscent of a space suit, in order to reflect the organisers' desire to embrace new technologies and possibilities for the future. As per the organisers, the words ‘Bing’ and ‘Dwen Dwen’ mean ‘ice’ and ‘robust’ respectively. Bing Dwen Dwen is the official mascot of the Games and the brainchild of Guangzhou-based designer Cao Xue of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. Alternatively, Shuey Rhon Rhon is an anthropomorphic Chinese lantern representing warmth and light, who was designed by Jiang Yufan - an undergraduate student of product design at the Jilin Art Institute of Design. Both mascots were chosen out of 3,500 entries that came in from all over the world, in a global competition held by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIV Olympiad (BOCOG).

Emblem And Identity

Designed by Lin Cunzhen, the emblem for the Winter Games represents the poise of a skater at its peak and the posture of a skier at its base Image: Courtesy of Beijing 2022 via Instagram

Designed by Lin Cunzhen, Artistic Director of the Beijing 2022 Venue and Image Design, the emblem for the Winter Games in Beijing is said to be inspired by the Chinese character for winter (冬). A fluid ribbon-like motif evoking the poise of a skater at its peak and a skier at its base, the emblem design for the Winter Olympic Games represents the flowing mountains, ski slopes, and skating venues, while also referencing the event’s proximity to the Chinese New Year celebrations. Blue and green streaks in the graphic design denote the purity and serenity of ice and snow, as they are interspersed with red and yellow - the colours of China’s national flag, encapsulating youth, passion, and vitality. The emblem is often placed against a bright blue backdrop of rolling hills and mountains, highlighting the glorious peaks and ranges that China is home to.

The branding forming the backdrop at the ‘100 day countdown’ celebrations | Design at the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 | STIRworld
The branding forming the backdrop at the ‘100 day countdown’ celebrations Image: © Beijing 2022

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