For as long as I’ve known, no country has inspired my creativity as much as Japan.
I mean, I’ve loved everything about Japan since I was a kid; the culture, the traditions, the food, the history, and most of all, its absolute devotion to discipline and attention to craft. It’s something about them that I’ve always admired—especially now as a designer—and it’s something I try my damndest to emulate in my work.
So imagine my wonder when I started to read up on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch design.
The torch was designed by Tokujin Yoshioka, a famous designer proclaimed to be a “poet of materials, who’s done work for big brands like BMW and Shiseido. Without trying to fan-girl too hard, not only is this a beautiful piece of design, but from top to bottom it’s an absolute love-letter to Japan’s tradition, technology, and sustainability. 33% of the torch itself is made from aluminum construction waste, collected from temporary housing units made after the 2011 earthquake, and was made using the same technology used to create bullet trains. The form? Nothing other than Japan’s most famous flower, the cherry blossom.
In an interview with Fast Company, Yoshioka said that his inspiration came from drawing cherry blossoms with children from a recovering area. “The cherry blossoms they drew were all vibrant, as if [they] symbolize a scene where people are overcoming and restarting from the disaster. I aimed to convey their power to the world through my design.” The result? A torch that is as elegant and beautiful, as it is thoughtful and gripping.
As a design professional who loves creating corporate identities, I love doing what I do but it can sometimes be easy to fall into the “do-project-make-money” rut, and forget that design can actually bring people together in an impactful way. Design has the ability to tell stories, shape perspectives, and influence outcomes. It’s larger than any one item or advertising; it’s a way of thought put in everyday practice. Yoshioka’s torch is proof of that.
I’ll be looking forward to seeing this whip across my TV screen next year.