OFFICIAL SITE: http://www.desktopolympics.org
VIDEO: http://www.vimeo.com/7297449

Desktop Olympics is an offshoot of the Olympic Summer and Winter Games. Just like the ancient Greeks turned their everyday objects and war tools (spears, discs) into props of olympic competition and play, Desktop Olympians reappropriate artefacts of our times for competitive and playful purposes. In Desktop Olympics, athletes compete with computer mice, qwerty keyboards and office computers in several, new disciplines, ranging from Notepad Fencing to Scroll Racing and Folder Wrestling.


During an intense week in and around Maribor´s old water tower, Unsworn Academy and nine participating students, from various design disciplines, formed the Desktop Olympic Committe. The committee was presented with the dauting tasks of

  1. designing and establishing the Desktop Olympic movement and its online presence.
  2. inventing, refining and communicating the Desktop Olympic disciplines to local and global athletes and audiences.
  3. designing, producing and hosting the Desktop Olympics: Maribor 2009 public competitions.

The word design, from latin’s designare, has a threefold etymology: (1) to give shape, (2) to decipher, (3) to assign meaning. Most people think of design in the first sense and connect it to the production and shape-giving of new things. Interaction design brings a fresh perspective that is often more about creating rules and framing situations than adding new stuff to the world.

In Desktop Olympics this is taken to an extreme. Desktop Olympic disciplines are new “computer games” or sports, created without writing a single line of code. We assigned new meaning to contemporary operating systems, by redefining them as stadiums and the applications and icons as athletic props. Similarly by plugging in several USB keyboards and mice into the same computer, we reapproptiate existing interface peripherals into olympic tools.


Design in the Desktop Olympic sense is about crafting invitations and action spaces. In this workshop different invitations worked on several levels: communicating the sports to potential online athletes as well as creating and inviting to the public event in the main square of Maribor.