SCMP Saturday, May 12, 2001

Critics breathe fire on dragon symbol


The SAR's new $9 million dragon logo has failed to impress top designers who said it was boring, uninspired and easily mistaken for other animals.
They also criticised the Government for ignoring local designers and the public. While praising the project's intentions, the designers said the logo would not breathe fire into the SAR's image overseas.
The dragon symbol and the slogan "Asia's world city" were unveiled on Thursday at the end of the Fortune Global Forum.
Incorporating the initials "HK" and Hong Kong's Chinese characters, the logo will be used to promote the SAR globally as an investment and tourism destination. The logo came from a study by PR firm Burson-Marsteller with Landor Associate Designers and Consultants and Wirthlin Worldwide Asia Research.
Charles Ng, honorary treasurer of Hong Kong Designers Association, said: "It is uninspiring and boring. The designer tries to incorporate Chinese characters into the image of a dragon, but the result is quite unnatural."
He said the dragon motif had been overused and failed to capture the cosmopolitan nature of Hong Kong. "The dragon is the symbol for Chinese. The logo is more suitable to Beijing than to Hong Kong. Every city in China can claim to be a dragon city.
"We should use some more creative symbols to represent us. A phoenix reborn from fire is much more meaningful."
Kan Tai-keung, spokesman for the Design Council of Hong Kong, said the symbol ignored the SAR's multicultural population. "The motif places too much emphasis on Chinese-ness," he said.
Mr Kan claimed the symbol could be mistaken for another animal because it lacked the traditional features of dragons. "The Chinese dragon has special hair - this looks like a horse mane."
Alan Chan, creative director of Alan Chan Design, with 30 years' design experience, said the concept was fine but the execution unimpressive. "It is a good idea to incorporate English and Chinese words into the logo, but the designer did not handle it well."
Wan Ching-li, fine arts professor at the University of Hong Kong, said our neighbours may consider Hong Kong cocky. "A dragon head means the boss in Asian culture. To use it to represent a city is flashy and arrogant. I have asked professors from architecture and other departments - nobody likes it."
Only Wucius Wong, former senior lecturer in design at Chinese University, praised the logo. "My impression is positive. The combination of fire and dragon shows the dynamic side of our city."
Mr Ng criticised the Government for not making the bidding process to design the logo an open one. "To draw a logo to represent the whole city should involve local designers.
Professor Wan said: "Public opinion was never sought. We saw the design only when it was formally announced."