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Olympic torch designers reveal secrets of their design

(Xinhua)

16:35, July 24, 2012

LONDON, July 23 (Xinhua) -- One of the iconic images of any post-war Olympic Games is the Olympic torch, and the London Olympics, like many before, has come up with a design that says something about these 2012 Games.

The 2012 torch is now carrying the flame through the streets of London before its starring role in the Olympic Stadium opening ceremony on Friday.

It was designed by two young British designers, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby who set up their eponymous Barber Osgerby practice specializing in furniture and industrial design in 1996, after completing post-graduate studies in architecture at London' s Royal College of Art (RCA).

Xinhua visited the two designers at their practice base, in a converted and whitewashed Victorian warehouse in the Shoreditch area of London, an area once dominated by trades like printing but which is now home to clubs, art galleries, restaurants and creative businesses like Barber Osgerby.

Edward Barber, the taller of the two and with the darker hair, explained that the Olympic torch brief was complex.

"The main title for our brief was to produce 'a torch for our time' . It was a tough one. The most difficult thing is to produce an object that is engaging, appealing, represents what it needs to represent, and because there are no exact criteria for that."

Partner Jay Osgerby said, "We only really do contemporary designs. We tend to design things that we hope will stand the test of time. But for this one it had to be imbued with meaning."

The two were given a brief to design the torch. The brief turned out to be the size of a substantial book.

This included all the plans for previous flames, all the climate details for Britain in the summer, the history of the Olympics, and so on.

"The brief said it had to be engaging for Londoners, the British public, and the world watching. Luckily they only gave us 10 days to design it," said Barber.

"If they had given us two years we would have spent every minute of two years on it, and would not have done any better. It' s because there was so little time, that we became very focused and eliminated periphery stuff and we got straight into it."

The 10 days were intense, working 24 hours after the basic idea had been developed, said Osgerby.

Remarkably the torch as we see it now was the first design they came up with; "the only design we came up with," said Barber.


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