Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The story behind São Paulo's logo


Iconic Paulista symbolism
The iconic lozenge-shaped symbol which has come to represent São Paulo derives quite simply from the contours of São Paulo state itself. In a previous blog post we covered the widespread use of this symbol from pavements to no-smoking signs and police cars. Once you've noticed it once, you'll see it over and over throughout the city.

The shape of São Paulo state
Whilst the geometric origin is well known and relatively easy to notice independently, the symbol also has a human story behind it, one that very few people know, even Paulistas.

We have to go back to 1966. At that time Mirthes dos Santos Pinto was a designer for the department of public works of the local government council.

The, then mayor, Mr Faria Lima was a man known for his innovation and he decided to open a public competition in order to establish a standardised pavement design for the city. Amongst the hopeful designers was Mirthes and hers was one of the 4 final designs chosen to represent the city.

A stretch of Rua Consolação was chosen to lay down each of the 4 designs in order for a voting session to establish the winner. Mirthes dos Santos Pinto was declared the winner.

Public money paid for the paving to be installed on major avenues and soon private companies were making the tile available for more general uses throughout the city such as shop fronts and private houses. A design classic, the symbol was adopted by graphic designers for all sorts of applications and before long, it was omnipresent.

Part of the success is its simplicity, easy to replicate and identify and yet ingenious. The geometric rigidity contrasts with the flowing curves of Copacabana's pavements highlighting the differences in urban landscape between the two cities. And in many ways the shape itself sums up the city: practical, striking and unmistakably man-made.

For that we have Mirthes dos Santos Pinto to thank.


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