Beyond 2012 - an integrated Design Story

Olympic Torch
A product design story

“More than anything we wanted the Torch to symbolise modernity, and illustrate how advanced design, engineering and manufacturing are in the UK.”

Edward Barber,
Founding Director

Tell us about the early design brief

LOCOG and Design Council gave us an elaborate brief, a lengthy document which outlined the history of the Games including previous torches and rigorous technical and performance criteria. The Torch had to withstand all the elemental challenges that you might expect of British weather; it needed to work in rain, snow, humidity, high altitude, strong winds and sub-zero temperatures. It needed to be easy to grip, safe, manageable, strong and yet also light enough for the youngest and oldest Torchbearers to carry it (as young as 12 and as old as 100!). It also needed to be economical and able to be produced en masse – there were 8,000 torches; one for every Torchbearer. It was a complicated piece of industrial design.

What inspired your design concept?

The inspiration came from our desire to create a strong narrative through the Torch design. It was important to us that the Torch had many layers of meaning; that it represented the relay and the nation, and captured some of the history of the Games. We also wanted to design something that felt like a piece of sporting, performance equipment – like a baton; something which felt tensile, tactile and useful. But more than anything we wanted the Torch to symbolise modernity, and illustrate how advanced design, engineering and manufacturing are in the UK.

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

It was a real honour to be chosen for the commission. The Torch is an iconic symbol of the Olympic Games and will pass on its legacy. To represent your country in this way is one of those incredible things you only have the chance to do once in a lifetime. It’s the first opportunity we’ve had to design an object that is so recognisable and so symbolic – it’s hard to imagine another project so inclusive and so rewarding to be involved with.

Agency

Company name
BarberOsgerby

Project
Olympic Torch

Website
barberosgerby.com

Project team

Edward Barber
Founding Director

Jay Osgerby
Founding Director

Jon Marshall
Studio Director

William Howe
Senior Designer

Laura Liram
Commercial Director

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