Beyond 2012 - an integrated Design Story

Olympic Torch and Relay Artefacts
A product design story

“The original creative solution, combining a new visual approach to infographics as narrative visual data and an offbeat, British form of creativity.”

Paul Raindle

Tell us about the early design brief

To provide LOCOG with a design and program solution that delivered 10000 Olympic Torches and associated artefacts for the London 2012 Games.

How did it feel to be involved in such an important British project?

Wonderful. Privileged.

What challenges did you face along the way?

There were many challenges, and design was core to every aspect of the program.
From designing the brief – with historical information, geo-engineering data and 2012 relevant direction – and ensuring it was all on brand with LOCOG – to designing the process, reducing 800 design candidates to 22 capable designers to 6 designers who were selected to pitch to the one company chosen. To using Graphical design direction to source engineering and manufacturing suppliers for the program and understanding the design aesthetic wants and technical needs, communicating this through each stakeholder to project design in the first instance.

Designing processes that engaged each element to deliver – understanding the importance of each aspect.

Did you know…

  • Asking EDF to test the fuel in a Climatic Wind-tunnel for temperature and wind velocity – and then going to support on the Cold Climate Sessions…freezing…wet… and windy…

What about specific design challenges?

Employing the trust of an organising committee to make guided decisions based on information (cost/time/viability) whilst challenged by the wants/needs of sponsors was a major challenge.
This was nurtured through a process of structure deliverables each stakeholder was to deliver by a defined timeframe.

A major design challenge was being presented with a 2012 torch design that did not specifically fit with the brief, however wanted by the client.
The initial design pitch was intended as a rapid manufacturing solution – to present the advanced manufacturing technology within the UK.

However the process and volume required for manufacturing 12000 torches did not align.

To overcome this I was asked by LOCOG to mature the design with Barber Osgerby to align with the brief i.e. to be made using traditional manufacturing methods. The double skin aluminium body was the result. Laser cut and precision welded, finished with gold PVD that could withstand the operational temperatures of the torch.

Ensuring the legacy of sustainability aligned with that of the relay safety and operational delivery.Design direction from the get-go was to use a carbon-negative fuel developed by EDF Energy (Major 2012 Relay Sponsor).

Through development I advised LOCOG/EDF that this fuel needed further development prior to being accepted. Whilst the fuel was incredibly sustainable, the caution and concern was over safety to relay participants and LOCOG Operations.

The design of the torch was aligned to the design of the fuel – so there was a tipping point that was reached that required a fundamental decision… affecting all aspects of the torch (design/delivery/safety/sustainability/operationally). LOCOG made this call with the evidence provided in the best interest of delivery the relay.


Company name
Paul Raindle

London 2012 Olympic Torch and Relay Artefacts

Project team

Paul Raindle

More 2012 stories

Retail Stores
rpa: group

Paralympic Games medals
Lin Cheung

Paralympic Games £5 coin
Pippa Sanderson

Olympic Torch and Relay Artefacts
Paul Raindle

Olympic Cauldron
Heatherwick Studios