Once again this year, in spite of the many controversies surrounding the opening of the Games, the Olympic flame has reached its cauldron. A new and technological cauldron, signed by Oki Sato’s Japanese studio Nendo.
Developed on the basis of the concept “All gather under the Sun, all are equal, and all receive energy” by Mansai Nomura, the creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the cauldron has a spherical appearance that recalls, according to the studio, the sun - but also, predictably, a volleyball.
It comes as no surprise that Nendo’s work is a mix of ingenuity and creativity. In fact, Sato is no stranger to transforming common objects into small works of art: Nendo has redesigned all kinds of humble, everyday objects, such as the electronic cigarette that lights up with a lighter, the watch with a removable strap, the container for powdered soy, the magnetic glasses, the umbrella that stands on its own, the triangular slippers, and many more.
Reading the project report for the Olympic cauldron, one cannot help but be disoriented by the amount of technicalities that refer to its manufacture, including the names of materials and chemical elements used in the construction of such an important and difficult object. Hydrogen is the novelty element in this year’s flame: for the first time in history, it has been used instead of propane, a necessary and conscious development towards the issues of pollution and climate change. Hydrogen combustion, in fact, is clean and does not produce pollution, unlike fossil fuels.
What strikes the most, however, is how harmoniously this 2.7tonne structure “blossomed” when tennis player Naomi Osaka, torchbearer for Tokyo 2020, arrived.