Rio2016 Olympic Torch

Rio 2016

Sustainability Structural Product Language Identity Graphic Experience

Designing much more than an object: a symbol of the union and overcoming of humanity

The Rio2016 Olympic Torch project was not just about the design of an object - it was emotion, delivery, commitment, achievement, and the construction of a symbol that impacted more than 4 billion people.

He brought to the project team the burden of responsibility to design something unique in our lives, and the emotions of bearing the sacred flame for those who had this privilege.

MG - MURIAE - 16/05/2016 - RIO 2016 TORCH RELAY - Olympic Torch Relay for the Rio 2016 Games. Photo: Rio2016/Andre Mourao

The development of the Rio2016 Torch harmoniously mixes 3 disciplines: brand identity, shape design and product engineering.

In a collaborative work process, the team immersed itself in the history of the event, the flame relay, and the symbolism related to the pillars of the Rio2016 brand.


A symbol that carries the values of the event, its power to engage and move different generations and cultures, to transmit positive energy, to proactivate people for a unique and ideal sporting moment. Beyond carrying the Olympic fire, the concept provokes the senses in several directions: it portrays a country and a city, it represents our joy and our people, it offers possibilities for interactivity and carbon replacement, it brings countless meanings together, in the same iconic object.

Main message: TRANSCEND, surpass limits, go beyond, amplified by the torch mechanical opening system.

Secondary messages: UNION and REVELATION

  • UNION, of nations people for the ideal of sport, UNION of nations people for friendship and respect, UNION of cultures for learning.
  • REVEALING sports talent, overcoming and crossing boundaries. Revelation of a Brazil that's rich in culture and joy, which has in Rio de Janeiro the expression of its nature of dazzling beauty, the energy of our people, the heat that is solar light and, at the same time, human.
Rio 2016 Olympic Torch releasing video

Olympic Torch - Mechanical design

Curiosities about Rio2016 Olympic Torch

  • 10 Torches were designed and manufactured with a camera inside, to record emblematic moments of the relay. The initial idea was that each torch had an internal camera, so that each bearer had a memory, but the high cost and operational difficulty of this idea prevented its realization.
Camera system design, execution in our workshop and Bob Burnquist torch image
  • The Torches were manufactured in Catalonia, Spain, through a network of dozens of local suppliers. After being tested and packaged, they were transported by ship to Rio, since explosive gas is not allowed inside aircrafts.
  • 15,000 Torches were manufactured, 9,000 for the Olympic relay, 800 for the Paralympic. The rest were used as backup, auctioned off or destined for museums and authorities. The number of Torches depends on the length of the relay, as each driver has a stretch of approximately 200 meters. In fact it's a Flame relay, not a Torch one, and each breaker keeps the Torch he used for himself.
  • The relay team carries 2 backup flames in mining lanterns (obtained from the original greek flame), in case the Torch flame goes out. In an event like this, the relay makes a quick pause for the flame to be rekindled.
Rio 2016
  • The use of gel ethanol as a bio-fuel was considered, but it was discarded because it did not guarantee that the flame would stay lit even in the rain or be visible in daylight. The flame, as in predecessor torches, was obtained by burning a mixture of propane and butane, gases commonly used for domestic stoves.
Flame test using ethanol and additives
  • During the relay, political protests unsuccessfully tried to extinguish the Torch with water spouts and even fire extinguishers. The flame is tested in a wind tunnel and with a volume of torrential rain, to ensure the integrity of the relay.
Wind Tunnel tests for the Torch Flame
Making of Rio2016 Olympic Torch
MG - NAQUE - 12/05/2016 - RIO 2016 OLYMPIC TORCH RELAY - Olympic Torch Relay for the Rio 2016 Games.. Photo: Rio2016/Andre Luiz Mello
Rio2016 Olympic Torch Development Team - from left to right, downwards - Viviane, Mateus, Adolfo, Leonardo, Raquel, Katia, Romy, Gustavo - Chelles & Hayashi Design