Torch prototype, box, documentation, Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games, made by the KWA Design Group, Australia, 1998
On 23 February 1998, KWA Design Group submitted this torch prototype and box, company profile and presentation booklet to SOCOG as a design tender for the Sydney Olympic torch and community cauldron. (The cauldron prototype is not included in this collection.) In combination with other tenders, these objects reflect the Australian iconography that inspired local designers, and demonstrate the detailed tendering process that preceded the manufacture of the Sydney Olympic torches and cauldrons.
In late 1997, SOCOG invited over fifty local design companies to submit proposals for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic torches and portable cauldrons that would feature at Torch Relay celebrations. The detailed and exacting brief comprised broad specifications that reflected the enormity of the Torch Relay and the environmental concerns that under pinned the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Essentially, the selected torch, cauldron and fuel system would withstand the extreme weather conditions that might arise during the relay, including high winds of up to 65 kilometres per hour, torrential rain and hail, extreme temperatures, humidity, dust and snow. They would be safe to transport, store, and operate, as well as simple to repair and easy to use. The torch itself would burn for up to thirty minutes while the portable cauldron, with a much larger fuel system, would burn for no less than twelve hours. Moreover, both the torch and cauldron would be ergonomic for the young, elderly and disabled, as well as lightweight, fuel-efficient, and inexpensive to mass-produce. (The combined Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays would require 14,200 torches and 187 community cauldrons.)
The Sydney company, KWA Design Group, responded to this brief with a torch that melded Australian imagery, its tapered shaft referring to sun-bleached bones, branches, and other objects scattering the bush floor, but also signifying the muscular curve of an athlete's limb. Each of the three hundred dots around the torch shaft symbolised an indigenous language, while the hollowed circular base suggested the ceremonial significance of the didgeridoo. Like the torch, the portable cauldron featured graceful arcs and sharp angles that echoed the sail-like roofline of the Opera House, and the curve of the boomerang. The Olympic and Paralympic torches would feature the same basic design but would incorporate distinguishing colours, finishes and logos.
Underpinning this design was a host of features that reflected SOCOG's duty to deliver the inaugural "Green Games". Comprising recycled products, including aluminium and carbon fibre composites, the torch and cauldron would utilise a fuel-efficient, LPG combustion system to produce only minimal pollutants. In comparison to other tenders however, the written submission did not demonstrate a comprehensive analysis of the environmental efficiency of the designs.
Design tender submitted by the KWA Design Group to SOCOG on 23 February 1991.The torch was made for and owned by the Olympic Coordination Authority/Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, and donated to the Powerhouse Museum after use in the Games.