Creating Community: Art and Design at Tokyo's Olympic Agora


The Olympics present a unique opportunity to engage people from diverse cultures at one location for a celebratory, esteemed, competitive athletic event. Recognizing The Games additionally as an opportunity to establish connections between sport, culture, and creativity, The Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage initiated the Olympic Agora to showcase visual art. Artists and designers were guided to create Noren curtains (traditional Japanese curtains commonly hung in entryways) to represent cooperation, determination, resilience, and peace. This case study shares the methodologies and solutions that were involved in this interdisciplinary and international project towards a shared goal. Consideration within the creative process was also directed at the tentative reality of the lingering global pandemic. For the first time in Olympic history, The Games had been postponed for one year, ultimately occurring in 2021. The Tokyo 2021 Olympics signaled the restoration of physical interaction and competition on a global scale, allowing physical, mental, and emotional healing. The Olympic Agora, featuring the work of five Olympians and one Paralympian, served as a cultural hub that created a sense of community through a free and accessible environmental installation for the international audience.


Kelly Salchow MacArthur
Professor of Graphic Design, Art, Art History, and Design, Michigan State University, Michigan, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design


Design, Culture, International, Environmental, Resilience

Digital Media


Creating Community (mp4)