The 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver are a spectacle of international unity, competitive sportsmanship and…modern design. Yes, modern design, although not as prominently noticeable, is a part of key Olympic elements. Perhaps, symbolic of a new decade, 2010 Winter Olympics introduced a lot of “firsts” – new competing countries, new Olympic sports and innovative, “never been done” contemporary designs for medal, torch and podium.
Medals – For the first time, the Olympic medals, created by Canadian industrial designer Omer Arbel are not flat, although still round in shape, this year’s medals featured a rippled surface evoking West Coast landscape of mountains, waves and drifting snow. The imagery on the metal incorporates West Coast native designs of an orca (Olympic) and a raven (Paralympic) interpreted in a very modern way of cropped illustrations by Corrine Hunt depicting the curve of orca’s dorsal fin or contouring raven’s wing. The silk scarf is also original, epitomizing the Olympic spirit of totality – each Olympian or Paralympian with the medal, will see how their medal tied with those awarded to other athletes.
Torch – collaboration between Bombardier and VANOC resulted in an utterly unique Olympic torch design concisely encapsulated as futuristically organic. Inspired by the sleek, crisp and modern lines that are left behind in the snow and ice from winter sports, the sinuous shape of the torch is suggestive of change and enthusiasm while its size is embodies Canada as a generous country in geography, potential and heart. Adding to the Canadian pride and spirit is the incorporation of the maple leaf which also functions as an air intake to ensure the Olympic Flame burns brightly as the torchbearer carries it.
Podium – Designed by James Lee and Leo Obstbaum, the modernist sculptural design of the Olympic podium is reminiscent of the Vancouver Island – both in structure, and topology. While the metaphorical representation of the podium, just like climbing a mountain, is a tribute to the Olympic journey and dream. The 23 podiums, where world’s best athletes will celebrate their glorious achievements are made of Western red cedar and Douglas fir donated by communities, businesses, individuals and First Nations from across British Columbia.