If you’ve been wondering about the design of the medals being presented at this year’s Olympics in Beijing, here is an interview with the man who led the design, Professor Xiao Yong. Like so much else at the Beijing games, from the Euro starchitects’ buildings combined with the massive traditional front gate, the medals are a combination of European and Chinese traditions. They combine the usual bronze, silver and gold metals with stone, specifically jade.
Their front side is traditional. There’s Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, and the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens, where the first Modern Olympic Games was held in 1896 thanks to the tireless efforts of Baron Pierre de Coubertin. It’s the reverse side that makes it a perfect blend of the West and East, rather Chinese. A ring of elegance, nobility and virtue adds that essential touch of Chinese culture to the medals. And as any Chinese would tell you, the ring couldn’t be made of anything but jade for only jade can represent all the three qualities.
I love this quote by Professor Xiao Yong: “In fact, the process was quite sophisticated, while the result was quite simple.” As so often happens, the best simple things result from a complex process.