barberosgerby: london 2012 olympic torch
jun 08, 2011
barberosgerby: london 2012 olympic torch

2012 olympic torch prototype designed by barberosgerby
image courtesy of london2012 / getty images

earlier today the the london organising committee of the olympic games and paralympic games (LOCOG )
unveiled prototypes of the london 2012 olympic torch designed by barberosgerby.

the torch is made from a golden aluminium alloy that is perforated by 8000 circular holes,
each representing one of the 8000 torch-bearers that will take part in the olympic relay.
it has a height of 800mm and weighs 800g.

2012 olympic torch prototype designed by barberosgerby
image courtesy of london2012 / getty images

following text from the official london 2012 press release:

earlier this year, east london-based designers edward barber and jay osgerby
won the competitive tender run by LOCOG and the design council that set the
brief to design a torch that reflects the celebratory nature of the olympic torch relay
and the olympic games.

the winning design connects the london 2012 olympic torch relay to each of the
8,000 torchbearers and their community. the torch’s triangular, gold-coloured form is
perforated by 8,000 circles representing the 8,000 torchbearers and their stories of
personal achievement and/or contribution to their local community which will be
celebrated during the london 2012 olympic torch relay.

sebastian coe with the 2012 olympic torch prototype
image courtesy of london2012 / getty images

sebastian coe, chair of LOCOG, said: ‘the torch that carries the olympic flame during
the olympic torch relay is one of the most recognisable and significant symbols of
an olympic games. members of the public right across the UK are busy nominating
inspiring people to be torchbearers and i am thrilled we have a beautifully designed,
engineered and crafted torch for them to carry.

‘integral to the design are the 8,000 circles, a lasting representation of the torchbearer
stories of personal achievement or contribution to their local community that will be
showcased with every step of the relay.’  

edward barber and jay osgerby explained: ‘ever since we were young we have loved
the olympic games. as designers, this is quite simply the best project going:
to design an icon for the games. we’ve wanted to be involved since july 2005
when we were celebrating winning the bid with the rest of the UK.

‘we have worked hard to develop a torch that celebrates the relay, and reflects the
passion for london and the olympic games. we wanted to make the most of pioneering
production technologies and to demonstrate the industrial excellence available in the UK
– it’s a torch for our time. this is our opportunity to represent the uk, in design terms,
and we are incredibly proud to be doing so.’

design: the torch is made up of four key pieces – an inner and an outer aluminium
alloy skin perforated by 8,000 circles that are held in place by a cast top piece and base.

jay osgerby and edward barber
image courtesy of barber osgerby

representing the inspirational stories of the 8,000 torchbearers who will carry
the olympic flame, the circles which run the length of the body of the torch also
offer a unique level of transparency – allowing people to see right to the heart
of the torch and view the burner system which will keep the olympic flame alive.  
the circles also help ensure heat is quickly dissipated without being conducted
down the handle and providing extra grip. london 2012 partner, BMW, have provided
the use of their climatic testing facility for the torch to be tested.

shape: the torch stands 800mm high. its triangular form has been inspired
by the identification of a multiples of three that are found across the vision
and delivery of the olympic games:

• the three olympic values of respect, excellence and friendship
• the three words that make the olympic motto – faster, higher, stronger
• the fact the UK has hosted the olympic games three times – in 1908, 1948 and 2012
• the vision for the london 2012 olympic games to combine three strands of work – sport, education and culture.

2012 olympic torch prototype designed by barberosgerby
image courtesy of london2012 / getty images

the torch weighs 800g. responding to a call in the brief to recognise the fact that more
than half of the london 2012 torchbearers are expected to be young people
aged between 12 and 24, several design features have been implemented to produce
what will be one of the lighter olympic torches. crafted from an aluminium alloy,
developed for the aerospace and automotive industry that is lightweight whilst having
good tensile strength and excellent heat resistance, the 8,000 circles also reduce
the weight of the final design whilst ensuring strength isn’t compromised.

the gold colour finish embraces the qualities of the olympic flame – the brightness
and the warmth of the light that it shines. the 8,000 torches will have a gold-coloured
finish that delivers an aesthetic beauty whilst having the ability to withstand the
temperature of the olympic flame.


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