Bright spark – would you be interested in creating the London 2012 Olympic torch?

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I can’t believe that London 2012 is just two years away. I’m already excited and I constantly keep a close eye on the progress of the build, especially Zaha Hadid’s Aquatic Centre and the Olympic stadium (above). I have already signed up to be one of the first to hear news about tickets, which go on sale next summer.

However, the other day it got me thinking about what role UK product and industrial designers are playing in the Olympics. What products are in design and development at the moment which are specific for London 2012? I haven’t really come across anything (so please email me if you are involved as I would love to know) until I saw the Design Council’s August 2010 edition of Pinged yesterday, which included a competition especially targeted at UK designers to create the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic torches. When I asked the Design Council for a comment yesterday David Godber, its deputy chief executive, had this to say: “This is a great opportunity for design – a global showcase for design talent. We’re delighted that LOCOG [the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games] asked us to help the design industry rise to that challenge.”

So, LOCOG, in partnership with the Design Council, are inviting top product and industrial designers as well as engineers and manufacturers to register their interest via the CompeteFor website in creating what will become one of the key visual icons of London 2012. At least 8,000 Olympic torches will be required to enable torchbearers to carry the Olympic flame the length and breadth of the UK during the 70 day Olympic Torch Relay. Designing and developing both the Olympic and Paralympic torches as well as lanterns, mini cauldrons and other related products for both torch relays are also part of the three separate briefs for design, engineering and manufacture.
I found out through twitter yesterday that Norwich-based design consultancy Product Resolutions will be applying. I had a quick chat to Nick Harvey, the consultancy’s director, about what his thoughts are and why he thinks its such a good idea that its been opened up to all UK product and industrial designers in this way. “I think that as the UK has such a strong and successful creative community as well as a history of design and manufacturing, it’s a great opportunity to showcase that to the world,” he said. “Opening the competition up to the wider sector gives the opportunity for some really great ideas and access to wealth of expertise from a broad range of skills in the visual, technical and material aspects. It’s also a good opportunity for some of the smaller, less well known consultancies to have a chance to design and develop a high profile product that they might normally not get access to.”

Although he obviously can’t reveal any design ideas that they may have in mind at this stage he did, however, have this to say about what the aim of the torch design should be: “A solution that shows the world what the UK creative industry is capable of – combining heritage and high technology in a solution that makes the UK population feel part of the games!”

If you too are interested, the deadline for expressions of interest, which will be welcomed from 11 August 2010 as details are posted on CompeteFor, is Sunday 22 August 2010. Thereafter a panel will select a shortlist of five designers who will receive a detailed brief and funding to develop their creative visions for the design of the torches, from which the winning design will be chosen by the panel in October. The panel will also select the successful engineers and manufacturers to take forward the production of the torches and accessories.

Good luck…

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