Art

Patterns and shapes

Champions Journal heads to the Design Museum to enjoy a stunning showcase of football’s creative side

WORDS Dan Poole

London’s Design Museum is – as you would hope, given its raison d’être – an impressive piece of architecture. As you turn the corner onto its courtyard you leave busy High Street Kensington behind to be greeted by a huge glass façade. It’s just as grand inside the modernist building, thanks to an atrium with a concrete roof that looks like a gigantic billowing sail. It towers above a huge space that echoes with the footsteps of patrons, who walk up (and down) oak-lined stairs that seemingly lead everywhere, all glowing in tastefully low lighting.

But we’re not here for grand eloquence – we’re here for a hectic hit of sport culture. Football: Designing the Beautiful Game is an exhibition that’s taken on the massive challenge of distilling centuries of round-ball artistry down to 500 objects. But what fine objects they are, with everything from George Best’s first pair of football boots to a scale model of Chelsea’s stadium, via a wall of iconic football shirts and a study of the evolution of Juventus’s logo. There are photos and films too, plus everything from tiny pin badges to huge flags. It’s a riot of colour, passion and panache.

The exhibition’s shirt display (top); scale model of Stamford Bridge (above)

Eleanor Watson, in charge of putting the whole thing together as the exhibition’s curator, has what might come as a surprising admission to make. “I’m not actually a football fan myself,” she says. “I came to it very green, with zero preconceptions about what football is, so that outsider’s perspective was useful in making selections. Very early on I realised that the scope of the exhibition was absolutely enormous, and that I needed to be very strict with myself.”

Watson soon appreciated that there was more involved than objective aesthetics; football’s appeal runs deeper than that. “Nostalgia is incredibly important within football culture and brands – and big brands know that because they play with it all the time. It’s a bit of a roadblock sometimes though, because it means that football design can be incredibly conservative; there is this feeling that people don’t want change. They want something that they’re familiar with, that they have built up all these emotional associations around.”

London’s Design Museum is – as you would hope, given its raison d’être – an impressive piece of architecture. As you turn the corner onto its courtyard you leave busy High Street Kensington behind to be greeted by a huge glass façade. It’s just as grand inside the modernist building, thanks to an atrium with a concrete roof that looks like a gigantic billowing sail. It towers above a huge space that echoes with the footsteps of patrons, who walk up (and down) oak-lined stairs that seemingly lead everywhere, all glowing in tastefully low lighting.

But we’re not here for grand eloquence – we’re here for a hectic hit of sport culture. Football: Designing the Beautiful Game is an exhibition that’s taken on the massive challenge of distilling centuries of round-ball artistry down to 500 objects. But what fine objects they are, with everything from George Best’s first pair of football boots to a scale model of Chelsea’s stadium, via a wall of iconic football shirts and a study of the evolution of Juventus’s logo. There are photos and films too, plus everything from tiny pin badges to huge flags. It’s a riot of colour, passion and panache.

The exhibition’s shirt display (top); scale model of Stamford Bridge (above)

Eleanor Watson, in charge of putting the whole thing together as the exhibition’s curator, has what might come as a surprising admission to make. “I’m not actually a football fan myself,” she says. “I came to it very green, with zero preconceptions about what football is, so that outsider’s perspective was useful in making selections. Very early on I realised that the scope of the exhibition was absolutely enormous, and that I needed to be very strict with myself.”

Watson soon appreciated that there was more involved than objective aesthetics; football’s appeal runs deeper than that. “Nostalgia is incredibly important within football culture and brands – and big brands know that because they play with it all the time. It’s a bit of a roadblock sometimes though, because it means that football design can be incredibly conservative; there is this feeling that people don’t want change. They want something that they’re familiar with, that they have built up all these emotional associations around.”

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

There was one area of creativity in particular that Watson had to grapple with, and it’s a subject that Champions Journal features every issue: football shirts. “I did a huge amount of calling around when I was making the selection for the kits, because people have really, really strong opinions about what is good or bad kit design,” she says. “I realised that there is no hard and fast rule – it’s just what someone thought was great when they were between the ages of 12 and 15.”

Further conversations around the European game identify an unofficial winner in the style stakes. “Everyone I spoke to said that Italian football is so beautiful, so well designed – they really care about design there. There is maybe more emphasis on design than in other European countries. In the UK it’s a more recent phenomenon.”

All the same, it was a UK designer (Phil Clements) who designed the Champions League starball logo. It can be found dotted about the exhibition in photographs and on shirt sleeves, and Watson sees its appeal. “It goes back to that archetype of football drawing: most people don’t play with a football that is white with black hexagons, but if you ask them to draw a football, that is what they’ll draw. It’s optimistic as well, with the star pattern.”

Now that Watson has done her part, has she emerged on the other side with a greater appreciation for why football and design are so inextricably  linked? “There’s something about the rules being simple,” she says. “It’s instinctive; playing it is very free in terms of how you move your body. That simplicity allows a lot of space for imagination and creativity.”

Football: Designing the Beautiful Game, will run at the Design Museum until 29 August

London’s Design Museum is – as you would hope, given its raison d’être – an impressive piece of architecture. As you turn the corner onto its courtyard you leave busy High Street Kensington behind to be greeted by a huge glass façade. It’s just as grand inside the modernist building, thanks to an atrium with a concrete roof that looks like a gigantic billowing sail. It towers above a huge space that echoes with the footsteps of patrons, who walk up (and down) oak-lined stairs that seemingly lead everywhere, all glowing in tastefully low lighting.

But we’re not here for grand eloquence – we’re here for a hectic hit of sport culture. Football: Designing the Beautiful Game is an exhibition that’s taken on the massive challenge of distilling centuries of round-ball artistry down to 500 objects. But what fine objects they are, with everything from George Best’s first pair of football boots to a scale model of Chelsea’s stadium, via a wall of iconic football shirts and a study of the evolution of Juventus’s logo. There are photos and films too, plus everything from tiny pin badges to huge flags. It’s a riot of colour, passion and panache.

The exhibition’s shirt display (top); scale model of Stamford Bridge (above)

Eleanor Watson, in charge of putting the whole thing together as the exhibition’s curator, has what might come as a surprising admission to make. “I’m not actually a football fan myself,” she says. “I came to it very green, with zero preconceptions about what football is, so that outsider’s perspective was useful in making selections. Very early on I realised that the scope of the exhibition was absolutely enormous, and that I needed to be very strict with myself.”

Watson soon appreciated that there was more involved than objective aesthetics; football’s appeal runs deeper than that. “Nostalgia is incredibly important within football culture and brands – and big brands know that because they play with it all the time. It’s a bit of a roadblock sometimes though, because it means that football design can be incredibly conservative; there is this feeling that people don’t want change. They want something that they’re familiar with, that they have built up all these emotional associations around.”

Patterns and shapes
Art

Patterns and shapes

Champions Journal heads to the Design Museum to enjoy a stunning showcase of football’s creative side

WORDS Dan Poole

London’s Design Museum is – as you would hope, given its raison d’être – an impressive piece of architecture. As you turn the corner onto its courtyard you leave busy High Street Kensington behind to be greeted by a huge glass façade. It’s just as grand inside the modernist building, thanks to an atrium with a concrete roof that looks like a gigantic billowing sail. It towers above a huge space that echoes with the footsteps of patrons, who walk up (and down) oak-lined stairs that seemingly lead everywhere, all glowing in tastefully low lighting.

But we’re not here for grand eloquence – we’re here for a hectic hit of sport culture. Football: Designing the Beautiful Game is an exhibition that’s taken on the massive challenge of distilling centuries of round-ball artistry down to 500 objects. But what fine objects they are, with everything from George Best’s first pair of football boots to a scale model of Chelsea’s stadium, via a wall of iconic football shirts and a study of the evolution of Juventus’s logo. There are photos and films too, plus everything from tiny pin badges to huge flags. It’s a riot of colour, passion and panache.

The exhibition’s shirt display (top); scale model of Stamford Bridge (above)

Eleanor Watson, in charge of putting the whole thing together as the exhibition’s curator, has what might come as a surprising admission to make. “I’m not actually a football fan myself,” she says. “I came to it very green, with zero preconceptions about what football is, so that outsider’s perspective was useful in making selections. Very early on I realised that the scope of the exhibition was absolutely enormous, and that I needed to be very strict with myself.”

Watson soon appreciated that there was more involved than objective aesthetics; football’s appeal runs deeper than that. “Nostalgia is incredibly important within football culture and brands – and big brands know that because they play with it all the time. It’s a bit of a roadblock sometimes though, because it means that football design can be incredibly conservative; there is this feeling that people don’t want change. They want something that they’re familiar with, that they have built up all these emotional associations around.”

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

London’s Design Museum is – as you would hope, given its raison d’être – an impressive piece of architecture. As you turn the corner onto its courtyard you leave busy High Street Kensington behind to be greeted by a huge glass façade. It’s just as grand inside the modernist building, thanks to an atrium with a concrete roof that looks like a gigantic billowing sail. It towers above a huge space that echoes with the footsteps of patrons, who walk up (and down) oak-lined stairs that seemingly lead everywhere, all glowing in tastefully low lighting.

But we’re not here for grand eloquence – we’re here for a hectic hit of sport culture. Football: Designing the Beautiful Game is an exhibition that’s taken on the massive challenge of distilling centuries of round-ball artistry down to 500 objects. But what fine objects they are, with everything from George Best’s first pair of football boots to a scale model of Chelsea’s stadium, via a wall of iconic football shirts and a study of the evolution of Juventus’s logo. There are photos and films too, plus everything from tiny pin badges to huge flags. It’s a riot of colour, passion and panache.

The exhibition’s shirt display (top); scale model of Stamford Bridge (above)

Eleanor Watson, in charge of putting the whole thing together as the exhibition’s curator, has what might come as a surprising admission to make. “I’m not actually a football fan myself,” she says. “I came to it very green, with zero preconceptions about what football is, so that outsider’s perspective was useful in making selections. Very early on I realised that the scope of the exhibition was absolutely enormous, and that I needed to be very strict with myself.”

Watson soon appreciated that there was more involved than objective aesthetics; football’s appeal runs deeper than that. “Nostalgia is incredibly important within football culture and brands – and big brands know that because they play with it all the time. It’s a bit of a roadblock sometimes though, because it means that football design can be incredibly conservative; there is this feeling that people don’t want change. They want something that they’re familiar with, that they have built up all these emotional associations around.”

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

There was one area of creativity in particular that Watson had to grapple with, and it’s a subject that Champions Journal features every issue: football shirts. “I did a huge amount of calling around when I was making the selection for the kits, because people have really, really strong opinions about what is good or bad kit design,” she says. “I realised that there is no hard and fast rule – it’s just what someone thought was great when they were between the ages of 12 and 15.”

Further conversations around the European game identify an unofficial winner in the style stakes. “Everyone I spoke to said that Italian football is so beautiful, so well designed – they really care about design there. There is maybe more emphasis on design than in other European countries. In the UK it’s a more recent phenomenon.”

All the same, it was a UK designer (Phil Clements) who designed the Champions League starball logo. It can be found dotted about the exhibition in photographs and on shirt sleeves, and Watson sees its appeal. “It goes back to that archetype of football drawing: most people don’t play with a football that is white with black hexagons, but if you ask them to draw a football, that is what they’ll draw. It’s optimistic as well, with the star pattern.”

Now that Watson has done her part, has she emerged on the other side with a greater appreciation for why football and design are so inextricably  linked? “There’s something about the rules being simple,” she says. “It’s instinctive; playing it is very free in terms of how you move your body. That simplicity allows a lot of space for imagination and creativity.”

Football: Designing the Beautiful Game, will run at the Design Museum until 29 August

London’s Design Museum is – as you would hope, given its raison d’être – an impressive piece of architecture. As you turn the corner onto its courtyard you leave busy High Street Kensington behind to be greeted by a huge glass façade. It’s just as grand inside the modernist building, thanks to an atrium with a concrete roof that looks like a gigantic billowing sail. It towers above a huge space that echoes with the footsteps of patrons, who walk up (and down) oak-lined stairs that seemingly lead everywhere, all glowing in tastefully low lighting.

But we’re not here for grand eloquence – we’re here for a hectic hit of sport culture. Football: Designing the Beautiful Game is an exhibition that’s taken on the massive challenge of distilling centuries of round-ball artistry down to 500 objects. But what fine objects they are, with everything from George Best’s first pair of football boots to a scale model of Chelsea’s stadium, via a wall of iconic football shirts and a study of the evolution of Juventus’s logo. There are photos and films too, plus everything from tiny pin badges to huge flags. It’s a riot of colour, passion and panache.

The exhibition’s shirt display (top); scale model of Stamford Bridge (above)

Eleanor Watson, in charge of putting the whole thing together as the exhibition’s curator, has what might come as a surprising admission to make. “I’m not actually a football fan myself,” she says. “I came to it very green, with zero preconceptions about what football is, so that outsider’s perspective was useful in making selections. Very early on I realised that the scope of the exhibition was absolutely enormous, and that I needed to be very strict with myself.”

Watson soon appreciated that there was more involved than objective aesthetics; football’s appeal runs deeper than that. “Nostalgia is incredibly important within football culture and brands – and big brands know that because they play with it all the time. It’s a bit of a roadblock sometimes though, because it means that football design can be incredibly conservative; there is this feeling that people don’t want change. They want something that they’re familiar with, that they have built up all these emotional associations around.”

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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