Steve Douglas on January 3rd, 2011

rio 2016 olympic logo

Hours after unveiling the new logo for the Rio 2016 Olympics, organizers were denying charges of plagiarism

Organizers of the 2016 Olympics, to be held in Rio, Brazil, trotted out their new logo as part of an elaborate beach party on New Years Eve, and Brazilian media were quick to claim that the design looked remarkably like the logo for The Telluride Foundation, based in Colorado. Fred Gelli, director of Tatil, the Brazilian agency that created the logo, denied any accusations of plagiarism, telling newspaper reporters his company did extensive research to guarantee the design was unique. Gelli acknowledged a “similarity” with the foundation’s logo, but said the general concept of people embracing each other is not novel.

rio 2016 and tellirude foundation logos

He’s got that right.

Update: The plot thickens

As the controversy about the Rio logo spooled out over the Internet, some are pointing out similarities between the design and the painting The Dance by Henri Matisse (below).

henri matisse the dance

If you ask me, the Telluride Foundation cribbed their concept from Matisse’s painting.

telluride foundation logo

Nothing wrong with that per se, but when you look at this little pearl, you gotta ask the question “who copied who?”

brasil carnaval 2004 logo

For what it’s worth I don’t think it was the Rio guys. Not by a long shot.

(Hat tip: Travel to Rio)




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26 Comments to “Rio 2016: Another Olympic logo. Another controversy”

  1. asd says:

    I do not think they are even close. If you look from far enough distance, a square always resembles a circle.

    I will give you that, the concept is overused, but the “overused” concept has made too much waves. Is it just my feeling or logo design starts to turn into illustration design? Simple shapes are overused no?

    BTW, your TLF blog logo (a gear) is heavily overused. What about that?

    • Steve Douglas says:

      @ asd – I agree that the logos aren’t terribly alike. What I found interesting is that the media was ready to pounce on the new design and found some obscure logo from Colorado that looks similar. If you perform a search on Google for this logo roll-out, you’ll find that the plagiarism angle is the bulk of the new coverage, thus worthy of writing about here.

      I’ll grant you that a gear isn’t awfully unique to TLF – for what it’s worth, you can read about the Genesis of the logo here and why we went with it.

  2. Antje says:

    It looks more like a condom or a baby pacifier.

  3. [...] 2016 Unveils New Emblem, on Brazilian design shop defends Rio 2016 logo, on adweek Another Olympic logo, another controversy, on The Logo Factor Rio 2016 Olympics Logo, on Logobird Wake Up Call: Here’s your 2016 Rio [...]

  4. tom says:

    Pacifier, that was my first thought too. The Telluride dancing folk form a heart, but the Rio logo doesn’t look like any abstract shape was intended.

    Other Guesses: little hammer, kookie eyes, earplug/bud, or phallus.

  5. Wesley says:

    Most likely both – the Telluride Foundation and the Olympic Games in Rio brands – have been inspired by the work of Henri Matisse’s “Dance” (la danse) painted between 1909 and 1910. In addition, Rio 2016 brand fits perfectly into the Sugar Loaf landscape and in the warm and festive spirit of the Brazilian people.

  6. [...] 2016 Unveils New Emblem, on Brazilian design shop defends Rio 2016 logo, on adweek Another Olympic logo, another controversy, on The Logo Factor Rio 2016 Olympics Logo, on Logobird Wake Up Call: Here’s your 2016 Rio [...]

  7. Robin says:

    I got the impression that they were trying to somehow echo the interlocking rings of the official logo, except there are only four “rings” of open space instead of five. I think if they had followed the same order of colors as the official logo instead of the spectrum they have now, it might have been more successful and less like the Telluride Foundation logo.

  8. Tim says:

    Wow . . . I didn’t see any of those things . . . I just saw a beautiful free flowing form made from “people” interacting. A great form with excellent color balance and an awesome design that spelled out the word “RIO” in both it positive and negative space. I love it.

  9. thonglove says:

    Seems like if a brazilan nubile dropped his pants. Fuck yeah.

  10. C’mon, this isn’t plagiarism, copy/paste or whatever you like to call it. Indeed there are some similarities but not enough to think they copied the whole thing. In my humble, opinion, people are jealous of the company that came up with this design. You want to see plagiarism? Have a lookie here at the 4th photo:

    • Steve Douglas says:

      @ becker – thanks for that VERY interesting link. Looks like somebody is copying somebody and it isn’t the people behind the Olympic logo.

  11. [...] sometimes- it’s better to keep your mouth shut [...]

  12. Diana says:

    Wow – that Carnaval 2004 logo certainly adds to the discussion mix – great link @becker.

  13. cathy says:

    Thanks for the great post. that is definately not inspiration but almost a direct copy.

  14. Mike says:

    You coould also argue the new logo for the Rio 2016 Olympics is based on the MS Silverlight logo seen here:

    Very similar too!

  15. Catherine says:

    I’ve been staring at Rio’s logo, wondering why they’ve gone with the shape of a jockstrap. But it’s rather clever really – sports.

    And who says designers don’t have a sense of humour…

  16. [...] the end this blog may have the best answer: too many people looked too long at Matisse. [...]

  17. Robin Percyz says:

    Yes, interesting post and juxtaposition of all the designs.


  18. Rodberth says:

    The shape of the logo is based in a mountain of Rio, called Pão de Açúcar…
    See it here:

  19. Robert Muller says:

    This is the Telluride Logo in 2001.

  20. Tom says:

    What a beautifully constructed logo. It has form and function and flows amazingly! Certainly a lot better than the London 2012 and the Glasgow Commonwealth logos. Combined.

  21. Ariel says:

    You forget the major difference, the Rio 2016 logo is actually 3d, it sthe first 3d loogo for the Olympics.

  22. [...] Rio 2016 Olympic logo | Similarity to the Telluride Foundation? | The …Jan 3, 2011 … Hours after unveiling the new logo for the Rio 2016 Olympics, organizers were denying charges of plagiarism and similarity to a design for The … [...]

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