The Red Lion: designing an emblem that reflects the sustainable design and manufacture values of the city

On The May 3, 2021

On April 26 and 27, 2021, a group of design school students took part in a creative challenge organized by the Université de Lyon’s Innovation Factory. This challenge is part of a much larger project: rethinking the iconic red lion, the symbol of ONLYLYON, so that its design is more in keeping with the City of Lyon’s sustainable development values.

Telling the story of the area through its history and know-how

This project, supported by the Innovation Factory, was inspired by the Red Lion “figurine”, which is often given as a prize at award ceremonies, among other things. Prior to the challenge, a group of design students from the École Bellecour (Lyon) first identified five themes inspired by Lyon’s traditional know-how and iconic features, including the Rhone and Saône rivers that flow through the city, the way the colorful facades of Lyon are reflected in the river, and the silk industry.

They used these elements to help them choose techniques for creating the red lion, including cyanotype printing, a 19th-century monochrome photography process, as well as materials, such as blown glass, silk thread and even fish skin leather!

The group then used these themes as inspiration for the online challenge that took place on April 26 and 27, to impress partners of the ONLYLYON initiative, the City of Lyon’s local marketing program. Using these themes, participants were asked to create promotional items related to or complementary to the red lion.

At the end of the challenge, a multidisciplinary group of students (designers, engineers, etc.) will work together for two to three months to design a lion figurine and packaging that meet several criteria (i.e. using sustainable and locally produced materials).


Recognition for the most innovative projects

A vote was held to select the “most innovative” idea. The winner was a beautiful pop-up book, printed using plant-based inks and recycled paper. A collectible transport ticket was voted the “most eco-friendly” idea and the “favorite” idea. When put together, these tickets form a map of Lyon showcasing the most iconic landmarks and buildings.