The sketchy, ephemeral blue globe which served as the official logo for the COP15 climate talks in Copenhagen has in interesting story. The UN in conjunction with the Danish Ministry of Culture launched a design competition in the early part of the year to create an identity for what would become the most important climate summit in history.
The judges received hundreds of entries and selected a team of 2 young graphic designers who came up with an unusual entry that breaks with UN tradition and acts almost as a meditation on the climate problem.
From a distance the design looks like a simple sphere, but as one approaches the sphere dissolves into a network of hundreds of interconnecting lines. There is an obvious metaphor here.
While the goal of the summit is quite clear and simple – to reduce carbon global carbon emissions – the path to get there is extraordinarily complex. The 192 criss-crossing refers to the interconnected relationships between the different member countries of the Conference of Parties.
The jury awarded the prize to co-creators Troels Faber and Jakob Wildschidtz for its multivalent reading:
It is simple, because the symbol is a stylized globe. It is complex, because the visual expression allows many different interpretations. The network of lines can be seen as connections between UN's 192 member states, but can also be seen as an expression of vulnerability, atmosphere, dynamic connections…
The COP15 sphere was ever-present in Copenhagen and became the springboard for numerous iterations in different media. At the entryway of the Bella Center there were four spheres made from different natural materials – moss, lichen, fungi, and pine cones – a great reminder that no matter how abstract the climate discussions become, we’re all here to protect the foundation of life on Planet Earth.