London’s Olympic Torch

A beacon of inclusivity?

Written for Kinneir Dufort: http://www.kinneirdufort.com/blog/londons-olympic-torch-beacon-inclusivity

There was considerable interest in the Kinneir Dufort studio this week with the unveiling of the design for the London 2012 Olympic Torch.  KD had been part of a Bristol-based consortium, including British Aerospace, GKN and the University of the West of England, that had submitted a bid to design and manufacture the torch.  Having been excited by the brief and enjoyed being part of the bid process, we were keen to see what the winning design team had come up with.

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby’s design is elegant and distinctive, but I wonder if it misses a trick in terms of the symbolism that the torch will deliver?  When thinking about the prospect of designing the torch for the London games, we were keen to build on two aspects of Britain, of which I think we can be justifiably proud.  The first relates to the multi-cultural melting pot that modern-day Britain, and especially London, represents.  We had read that the UK is the only country where residents of every participating Olympic country can be found.  Britain’s welcoming approach to all-comers sets us apart from many countries and is well-aligned with Olympic ideals.  The second is grounded in the leading role Britain has played in the development of the Paralympic movement.  Starting from a small event for British World War II veterans in 1948, Britain has strongly championed the promotion of the Paralympics, helping it to grow into the great inclusive celebration of achievement that it is today.

KD Olympic Torch Concept

The London Games Olympic Committee’s brief for the torch design included both Olympic and Paralympic torches, and KD’s idea for this was to create a pair of torches which were clearly designed to be viewed, held, and lit, together.  We felt that the opportunity for the torch to powerfully symbolise the equal status of the two games, as well as communicating a broader message of inclusiveness and togetherness, was too good to miss.  Further, we thought the torch relay offered a real opportunity to give as many people as possible access to participating in the games.  Integrating smart tagging technology into the torch could have created exciting opportunities for leveraging social networking to tell the story of the British torch journey, connecting people in an engaging way and broadening the inclusive appeal of the Olympic ideal.

Sporting events like the Olympics and the football World Cup have the ability to connect people and transcend borders in a way that governments and other international organisations can only dream about.  I eagerly look forward to the games next year and am sure that London will put on a great show.  Let’s hope that the torch acts as a beacon of inclusivity, as well as sporting achievement.

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