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Turning the Tables: The City of Cape Town Logo

Chris Dickman Wed, 03/19/2014 - 11:23

Somewhat confusingly, the City of Cape Town is not actually a city. Instead, it's a metropolitan municipality that includes the South African city of Cape Town and its suburbs. The primary languages of its inhabitants are divided equally between English, Afrikaans and Xhosa, with the area's most prominent landmark and tourist attraction being the nearby Table Mountain, the view from the top of which is often described as "epic."

The word epic is also being applied to the City of Cape Town's new logo, which was approved this week, but not always in a good way. In fact, judging from the comments of residents, who have compared it to a "fruit salad chopped up with a chainsaw," "gears from a bicycle wheel" and even " the wrong side of a rectal examination," the new look isn't going over very well with the locals. Perhaps these reactions are a bit harsh. After all, the designer retained the distinctive silhouette of Table Mountain, although an argument can be made that it has now been overused. And the five colors of the South African flag are still there, albeit with an extremely bright palette. Yes, the new treatment is undeniably distinctive, with a more decorative, "African" look to it.

But something has been lost in moving away from the brushstrokes, which provided a human presence, to the new hard-edged look. The official release states that "The colours are unique to Cape Town, the mountain viewed from many angles represents our celebrated diversity, and the energy and dynamism of the symbol represents progress and collaboration." Factor in this and the video below and you might well conclude that the brief was fine but the success of the execution is questionable.