Introducing the Australian Open’s biggest ever visual change

The biggest visual change to the Australian Open in the tournament’s hundred year history occurred in 2008 with a dramatic new look.

Along with a change to the court surface, the ‘on-court’ equipment and furniture such as player and umpire seating, serve-speed indicators, court borders and even the players arch were all designed, developed and project managed by Cobalt.

As one of only four ‘Grand Slams’ (the others are Wimbledon, French and US Opens) the Australian Open tournament is in elite company. The two-week tournament attracts over 500,000 live spectators to Melbourne’s tennis precinct and a global TV audience of almost billion.


  • Reflect Australian Open’s refocused brand attributes of ‘fresh, innovative and high performing’ through a distinct and identifiable visual language
  • Satisfy sponsors TV requirements
  • Incorporate new blue corporate colour

Design Solution

  • Umpire’s chair became the thematic leader for the other elements
  • It projects a dynamic, victorious thrust, using tensioned fabrics to produce a complex surface instead of a traditional frame structure
  • Secondary elements feature single planar surfaces folding over solid forms

Cobalt Tasks

  • Visual Positioning
  • Industrial Design
  • Design for Manufacture (DfM)
  • Sourcing & managing supply

Cobalt Team

  • Warwick Brown
  • Daniel Booker

Sport as theatre

As with most major sporting events, the playing environment is the primary visible element of the whole competition. Not just a field of play for the world’s best tennis players, the on-court environment is a stage, a television studio, a workplace and an advertising site.

The new look is a critical part of Australian Open’s effort to retain its standing as one of the world’s best sporting competitions. Whilst much of the media has, rightly, focused on the new Plexicushion playing surface, the on-court furniture also plays an important role in projecting the Australian Open as one of the world’s best tennis competitions with a distinct and modern feel.

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