Lenovo chosen as designer of '08 Olympic torch

Chinese PC manufacturer used elements of modern design, local culture to create torch.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

Can a computer company design a torch? Yes, according to the committee behind the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, which has selected a design by China-headquartered PC manufacturer Lenovo as the model for the games' iconic torch. According to a press conference on Thursday morning hosted by Lenovo, which is also a worldwide sponsor of the Olympics, the design was chosen from over 300 contenders.

According to Lenovo, the torch design took ten months and was the product of more than 30 engineers and design specialists. The end result, called "The Cloud of Promise," incorporates elements of both modern design and traditional Chinese culture. It's modeled off the design of a scroll--remember, China is the birthplace of paper as we know it--and is decorated with red lacquer and cloud motifs derived from Chinese art traditions. Lenovo's representatives stressed that like its PCs, the Olympic torch has been designed with both aesthetics and functionality in mind. The streamlined, 28-inch-long torch is a light load, weighing only 2.2 pounds. The company is touting it as the most technologically-advanced Olympic torch yet.

Keeping in tradition with the Olympic Games since 1936, the torch will be lit in Olympia, Greece. The 2008 version will then travel through 20 countries beginning in March, followed by Taiwan, Macao, and Hong Kong before reaching China.

Lenovo has planned to incorporate its Olympic sponsorship and torch design connections into its marketing and publicity campaigns, and hinted at the press conference that it's possible that the "Cloud of Promise" design may be used in a PC design sometime in the near future.

Despite the fact that it was designed by a high-tech company, the torch will still be lit by plain old fire. A question at the press conference inquired, "Are there any semiconductors inside?" and was met with some good-natured laughter.