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The coordinated effort to develop of a coherent visual identity for the Italian World Cup.
In an attempt to mobilise a collective involvement in the formation of this new identity, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) led by 39 year old Montezemolo (future chairman of Fiat, Ferrari and Alitalia) open a public contest to source design ideas for a logo to “distinguish” and a mascot to “characterise” the tournament. Boscardin’s winning proposal, initially captioned “the Italian”, stands out from the rest thanks to its abstract nature which strips it of all historical and cultural references, while the majority of the remaining 50 odd thousand entries are marked by iconography reminiscent of the Roman Empire or related to traditional regional gastronomy. The tendency to harness the “Made in Italy” label as a quality guarantee transpires at every stage of the process. It can be seen for example in the logo and mascot selection process, carried out by a jury composed of some of the most notorious contemporary Italian designers and architects, amongst which the famous Ferrari designer Sergio Pininfarina.
The centrality of the third dimension throughout the creative project is evident in the logo selected by the jury: a football composed solely of its black pentagons and their alternating green and red shadows. “Pininfarina considered it three-dimensional because of the green and red shadows which reminded him of stereoscopic prints viewable with 3D glasses.” The author of the logo, Vittorio Picconi, had become a graphic designer in the world of sport following a brief footballing career in the Italian 5th division. The impact of the three-dimensional football was such that it defined Picconi’s later style as a designer; to this day it brands his website and business cards.
Although the final proposal that Picconi presented to the LOC featured a prudent Helvetica font, the typographic element of the logo in its early stages was invariably composed as a stencil. Interestingly, by the time the unveiling ceremony came about, the font had been reshaped back towards its original form and into the iconic version which we are all familiar with: “ITALIA ’90” printed in a Glaser Stencil font and photographed at an angle to create the effect of depth perception, alluding to a televised image of a football pitch over which the stereoscopic football bounces.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the whole campaign is the fact is that, despite the effort from the LOC to coordinate the development of a coherent visual identity, the result is a not as rigidly uniform as one might expect. A testament to this is the contribution of artist Alberto Burri, who is asked to produce a series of six official promotional posters; the posters bear no trace of three-dimensionality or modern stencil fonts, and they certainly don’t conform to the anti-stereotypical, anti-historical theme set by the LOC. On the contrary, the posters feature images of the Colosseum, the quintessential symbol of a stereotypical past.