The design company behind the stage at CPAC said they had ‘no idea’ it resembled Nazi insignia

CPAC 2021 stage
Technicians work on the stage before the start of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, February 25, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo
  • The company that designed the CPAC stage said it was unaware of the Nazi associations of the shape used.
  • Design Foundry said it was ‘horrified’ at accusations it was intentional.
  • The company said it provided several designs and said CPAC chose this one. 
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The company that designed the CPAC stage  said that it had “no idea” the shape had Nazi associations.

Design Foundry, a Maryland events design company hired to come up with the stage, told Insider in a statement that it “had no idea that the design resembled any symbol, nor was there any intention to create something that did.”

Over the weekend, social media users noticed that the stage used by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and others at the flagship conservative event in Florida closely resembled an Odal rune, albeit upside-down.

This shape, which is Nordic in origin and has been used in many non-extremist contexts, was used on the uniforms of the SS, the German Nazi Party’s main paramilitary force. 

—The Daily Beans Podcast (@dailybeanspod) February 26, 2021

Both the conference organisers and the design company have denied that the resemblance was deliberate.

Matt Schlapp, the organizer of the conference and chair of the American Conservative Union (ACU), said in a tweet that it was “outrageous and slanderous” to suggest a conspiracy around the design. “We have a long standing commitment to the Jewish community,” he added. 

On Wednesday, Design Foundry said in a statement seen by Insider that it was “saddened and horrified at the accusations that this was a deliberate act.”

“Design Foundry denounces all hate speech and acts of racism, prejudice, or bigotry in all forms,” the statement added.

The company also said that the stage was designed with the “best use of space” and social distancing in mind. It said that it had provided CPAC with several designs to choose from, in a process that involved ongoing feedback from the committee. 

“What we ended up with was the most workable of the options they submitted,” Ian Walters, director of communications for the ACU and CPAC, told the newspaper. 

Saying ACU and CPAC had “no interest” in promoting antisemitism, Walters described the stage design as an “unwelcome distraction” and said that CPAC and ACU would not use the company again. 

The company, which has designed stages and event settings for clients including Citibank, Target, and MSNBC, makes no mention of the 2020 CPAC design on its digital portfolio, although images of its design for 2016 CPAC can be seen here

Responding to the controversy, Hyatt Hotels, which hosted the event at its Hyatt Regency, said Sunday it took the concerns “very seriously.”