Barber Osgerby: Olympic Torch

Work / Product Design

Barber Osgerby’s Olympic Torch wins 2012 Designs of the Year crown at Design Museum ceremony

In this Olympic year it was always going to be a hot favourite and sure enough Barber Osgerby’s Olympic Torch won the coveted Design of Year, it was announced tonight.

The Hackney-based duo beat off stiff competition from 89 others to take the title, and with less than 100 days to go until London 2012 there was another boost with the Veolodrome taking the category prize for architecture.

The judging panel liked the way the torch married the demanding design challenges in the brief, i.e needing to be durable but lightweight, protective of the flame but safe to carry, with its stylish look. The torch has 8,000 perforated holes representing the 8,000 runners who will carry it around the UK before it arrives in London.

Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic said: “Nothing is harder to get right than designing for the Olympics. The lightness and simplicity of Barber Osgerby’s London 2012 Olympic Torch does just that. The torch not only captures the spirit of London as Olympic host city but also demonstrates how design can celebrate traditional ideas in a modern way.”

Seb Coe, chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games was thrilled as well. "I am delighted we have such a brilliantly designed, engineered and crafted Torch that will help to celebrate the amazing personal achievements of each of our 8,000 Torchbearers and give them their moment to shine. It is also fantastic news that the stunning architecture of the London 2012 Velodrome has won an award and welcome recognition of the landmark new buildings the Games are bringing to London.”


Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby with the torch at the Design Museum exhibition


Barber Osgerby: Olympic Torch (Overall and Product category winner)


Hopkins Architects: The Olympic Velodrome (Architecture category winner)


Hopkins Architects: The Olympic Velodrome (Architecture category winner)

The Velodrome was chosen ahead of Assemble’s wonderful Folly for a Flyover and Ro&Ad’s Moses Bridge as well as more mainstream competitors like Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House.

The Graphic Award went the multi-lingual adjustable Nokia Pure font by daalton mag, chosen ahead of The Comedy Carpet and Noma Bar’s Cut it Out, and Issey Miyake’s 132.5 collection grabbed the fashion prize ahead of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress among others.

There was celebration at the RCA as graduate Kihyun Kim took the furniture prize for his balsa wood 1.3 Chair, and the college’s Helen Hamlyn Centre’s super-efficient redesign of London Ambulances was honoured in the transport category.

In a strong digital category the subway station scannable Tesco store, The Guardian iPad app, Tim Moore’s Letter to Jane, the new homepage and UVA’s High Arctic installation were among those to get pipped by Microsoft’s Kinect technology for Xbox.

Debate as to the rights and wrongs of the jury’s selection are sure to rage over the coming days and it will be interesting too see whether such a high-profile winner makes the mainstream media more likely to sit up and take notice of the awards as a whole, and the strength of design in this country in particular.

The winning designs are on show at the Design Museum until July 4.


Daalton Maag: Nokia Pure Font (Graphic category winner)


Daalton Maag: Nokia Pure Font (Graphic category winner)


Daalton Maag: Nokia Pure Font (Graphic category winner)


Kihyun Kim: 1.3 Chair (Furniture category winner)


Issey Miyake: 132.5 collection (fashion category winner)


Helen Hamlyn Centre: London Ambulance redesign (transport category winner)