Eurovision’s 2020 identity combines all 41 competing countries’ flags

by Henry Wong reposted from DesignWeek

Dutch design studio Clever Franke developed the “data-driven” identity for the singing competition’s 65th anniversary.

The Eurovision song contest 2020 has unveiled a “colourful” and “abstract” visual identity, created by Utrecht-based design studio Clever Franke.

The identity is based around a circular logo which “honours” the competition’s history and is inspired by this year’s “inclusive” tagline, ‘Open Up’, according to the studio.

The annual singing competition was started 10 years after the World War II with the aim of uniting Europe through music. The next competition will take place in Rotterdam in May 2020.

“Transparent and unpretentious”

The ‘Open Up’ theme had not yet been revealed when the studio began the design process, but the initial brief asked for an identity that was “open to everyone”.

According to its co-founder and director, Thomas Clever, the studio interpreted this theme as requiring an identity that was “transparent, unpretentious, with no hidden messages and with room for individual interpretation”.

Clever Franke decided to combine all the competing countries’ flags and their colours in a single circular vignette.

Clever says: “We felt this circular design checked those boxes, created a nice competition and a flexible system for further exploration when applying the identity.”

Design challenges

However, it was a challenge to feature all the countries in a single design, according to Clever. He says: “That breadth was simple not going to work across all media.

“We had to reduce the colour palette, and also make sure all the countries were still represented in the correct way.”

Clever Franke used Processing, a sketching software platform, to generate the main logo and patterns from this flag dataset. Afterwards, the design was “finetuned by hand” by an illustrator.

Clever says that it was also difficult using a “generative design approach” because the studio had little control over the outcome.

“The underlying data set of when countries joined the song contest is not something we can change,” he adds. “We looked into many different visual representations of the data and ways of visualisation to get to this design.”

An “experimental” identity

The resulting “data-driven” symbol extracts colours from each competing country’s flag and fits them around a circle in chronological order, according to when they debuted in the competition.

The first “abstract flag slice” is a compilation of colours from the six founding countries’ flags; The Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.

The complete symbol includes all the countries taking part in the 2020 competition; the most recent addition to the contest is Australia in 2015.

The wider identity is based off this circular design and can be applied across digital and physical platforms, including tote bags, T-shirts and wristbands. The studio says that the identity is “true to the Dutch design tradition – simple, intelligent, minimalist and experimental.”

2020 controversy

Jon Ola Sand, the contest’s executive supervisor, says the “impactful design encapsulates the event’s modern values of diversity and inclusivity”.

However, 2020’s contest has already experienced controversy when it was revealed that Hungary has pulled out of the competition.

Although no official reason for the country’s exit, it is rumoured that the competition’s inclusive ethos is “too gay” for the country’s far-right government. Hungary’s flag is not included in the design.