Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch

This is the Torch that will be used for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games designed by Lenovo.
As its designers state, it is inspired by a sheet of paper and in this way Chinese want to remind that paper was first manufactured in China. Personaly, i quite like it!

Yeah, its been getting some good reviews international wise / however back hme its been getting a bit of crit. “not chinese” enough.
Designed by Lenovo - Who are obviously chinese / but pushing into the international market, hense their design perspective.
I like it. Better than that average attempt by Starck.

Okay, this will get me in trouble.

I have heard that a prestigious design school in China designed the Torch, but because Lenovo is a major sponsor the government has attached their name to it.

Heard this from a very reliable source in China.

Actually ,I think the torch like an arts works not like a torch.

The torch is too cultural … why the torch has to be designed so culturally?


The Olympics are historical and the goal is to celebrate every new country that it occurs in. That is why it is more cultural and not generic.

The article below is from:

Walking in the “Clouds” June 12th, 2007

Editor’s Note: This is a post by Lenovo’s Executive Director of the Lenovo Innovation Design Center in Beijing, China - Yao Ying Jia. You can read his other post about the Olympic Torch design here.

Looking back at the torch design days for the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking hard about the design elements that went into this project. Among many thoughts coming into my mind, CLOUD is the most important element.

Abundant Cultural Elements

In the design of the 2008 Olympic torch, cultural elements play a very important role in this innovative project. The “cloud of promise” design is far more culture-oriented than most other Lenovo designs.

This torch design integrates three Chinese cultural elements: scroll, cloud pattern and lacquer red. Today, I will discuss the cloud pattern.

In the following pictures, on the silver aluminum surface of the upper part of the torch, you will see the embedded red cloud pattern with strong ties to Chinese cultural style.

Click for full size image

We hoped this cloud design would integrate Chinese culture, the Olympic spirit, and the future hopes and dreams of people around the world, dreams which are embodied by the Games and their celebration of excellence and achievement.

Like any other project, we started with a brain-storming discussion. Designers were very active and proposed many good suggestions, including lots of Chinese cultural elements - among those dragon, lantern and cloud pattern were the most representative ones. But, which one could perfectly embody the Chinese culture, Olympics spirit and the hopes and dreams of the people?

Lenovo China design team

Lenovo China design team

Cloud Pattern

After much internal discussion, we all finally agreed to choose the cloud pattern. In traditional Chinese culture, the image of Dragon and Phoenix indicates auspicious things and fine blessings. A necessary element in depicting their images is the cloud, which harmonies and enhances the atmosphere through which they fly.

Clouds were created among the earth and heaven. In Chinese aesthetics, cloud reflects nature and the human spirit. Cloud is also the most important element in Chinese traditional paintings. Cloud can merge, scatter, generate or disappear, always in endless cycles and constantly changing form. In Chinese culture, cloud is really quite magical. It generates a new creature by merging together. In the Olympics, with people coming from different nationalities and races to meet together, to share together and create a new future together, we felt cloud is the very element which conforms perfectly to the Olympic spirit.

Click for full size image

In Chinese history the dragon is the symbol of imperial authority, while the cloud is the symbol for the public will, symbolizing the spirit of sharing and equality. Unconsciously, the cloud pattern has deeply penetrated into every corner of our life; it exists everywhere and so ubiquitously that we are sometimes insensitive to its omnipresence. There are also a lot of cloud patterns in traditional Chinese architectures, sculptures, vessels and paintings.

Cloud symbols in the past

In modern life, cloud can be seen everywhere.

Cloud reflection in building

Cloud pattern in carpet

Redesigning the cloud pattern

Focusing on the humanistic spirit of the harmony between human beings and nature, Lenovo’s designers studied the cloud patterns found on a lot of original vessels - “bubble pattern”, “vine pattern” and “cloud pattern” all have long histories and auspicious meanings.

Cloud design

The preliminary pattern is a screw-style pattern - very simple, but too geometric. It can’t deliver the original ideas and expound the understanding about cloud.

From the universal archetype of clouds, we wanted to refine a brand-new cloud image with rich meaning: one that has a sense of fashion style, three dimensions and a flowing effect. We also attempted to design a decorative cloud image with a more classic style. Ultimately we were unsatisfied with these prototypes, but we kept designing until st last, we designed the cloud pattern we wanted.

The cloud pattern is not only the symbol abstracted from thousands of years Chinese culture, it endows the torch with more culture-oriented features and gives the torch the feeling of light and intelligence.

Click for full size image

Through this special torch design experience, our design team has had the opportunity to explore these important icons of Chinese culture and transform them into simple but meaningful modern images.

We also had the chance to improve our capabilities in balancing between tradition and fashion, eastern and and western cultures, and how to use fewer elements to express more emotional values.

This is the real charm of innovation.

Yao Ying Jia

Posted in Design & Culture, Design Innovation, Design Theory | 4 Comments » | Link

Olympic torches are pretty interesting items. From a design and engineering perspective, they are more complex than they appear at first glance. They don’t have igniters. The flame has to be passed torch to torch. They can’t be refilled either. This helps maintain the sanctity of the Olympic flame. They only carry enough fuel to burn for 15-20 minutes so timing is pretty critical for the torch bearers. The torches have to be tested with gusty winds to make sure they won’t prematurely go out as well. They also have to be light enough for a runner to carry them in an arm-raised position - a feat that’s harder in and of itself than it sounds.

The 2002 Salt Lake City torch was designed at Georgia Tech while I was in grad school there. Two industrial designers worked on it: Tim Purdy and the late Lee Payne. I think that Tim and Lee worked on the 1996 torch as well, but I might be wrong about that. Here’s a link:

During the 1996 games, I had the opportunity to have my photo taken with Al Oerter’s torch. He won gold in the discus in 1956, 1960, 1964 & 1968. He was the final runner who brought the torch to the Olympic Stadium. He passed the flame to Evander Holyfield.

i gotta like the torch but im looking forward to the olympics and to be exact i cant wait for the basketball games in the Olympics…

My rumor was a rumor. I went to see Yao talk about the design of the torch today (I even got a photo of both of us with the torch). He showed the entire process.

Not all sources are reliable.