1 Logos and restyling over time

In the 1930s, some wool producers thought the time had come to promote the product on an international scale in their interest. In 1937 the IWS was born, the international Woolmark Secretariat, a body that represented sheep farmers in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Uruguay, that is 80% of world production. In the Second World War synthetic fabrics and later, in the 60s, acrylic fabrics, polyester and nylon had begun to undermine the primacy of quality of pure wool; to counter the spread of these “unnatural” fibers in 1963 the IWS (now AWI, Australian Wool Innovation) decided to hold an international competition to create a logo that would identify the natural component of their product and guarantee its quality. In 1964 the “Pure Virgin Wool” brand was officially presented in London, the “Woolmark” in the world.

Considered in the course of an international survey the most beautiful logo ever designed, it has remained a timeless icon, perfect in its simplicity. But who is the author of the Woolmark?

In 1963 the graphic designer Franco Grignani was invited to be part of the international jury for the choice of the logo. Shortly before departure, Mr. Spiriti, a person in charge of the advertising agency who worked for the Italian Secretariat for Pure Virgin Wool and who was in charge of collecting the graphic material to be exhibited in the competition, showed up his intention to submit the collected projects to him. Discouraged by the inadequacy of the proposals, Franco Grignani decided to withdraw from the jury and sent a cancellation to London; the person in charge Spiriti, worried by his reaction, began to insist that he revise his decisions and, at the most, propose something of him, given that time was now running out. London was pressing that Grignani not refuse to be part of the jury and Spiriti did the same to present something of an adequate level. Sure of not winning in such a large international contest, Grignani began to study something that would save the quality level of Italian design.

It is said that one day at lunch on the white tablecloth he drew, with the tines of his fork, a rotation of arches, that is, the idea of ​​the famous “ball of yarn”; he made several variations by experimenting with the different thicknesses of the lines. It was a stylized sign, an experiment in black and white graphics according to the typical style of his visual language. In his Olivetti diary of the time, the nine solutions of his logo are reproduced. During the work of the jury all the participants immediately expressed themselves and, unanimously, in favor of his project with the exclusion of Grignani who, aware of being in a situation of great embarrassment, voted against his work until the end arousing the wonder of the participants. The logo project, presented by the advertising agency appointed by the Italian Secretariat of Pure Virgin Wool, was attributed to Francesco Saroglia (an employee within the same) and entrusted to Franco Grignani for some adjustments. Saroglia’s paternity was immediately questioned by the lack of documentation on his graphic activity; no known work, book or testimony. Only after almost twenty years of silence, Grignani began to re-attribute it.