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SBD Global/July 25, 2014/Olympics

Row Over London 2012 Olympic Cauldron Design Settled Out Of Court

Organizers of the London Olympics "reached an out-of-court settlement over the disputed origins of the cauldron design that formed the centrepiece of its opening ceremony," according to Oliver Wainwright of the London GUARDIAN. The "startling cauldron of copper petals" that rose up to form a flaming flower at the climax of the ceremony "had been hailed as one of the most original in the history of the Games, and another triumph for the highly regarded British designer Thomas Heatherwick." But two years on, LOCOG "has acknowledged in a statement that New York-based practice Atopia came up with five design principles that would go on to become defining characteristics of the cauldron." The acknowledgement, "which comes with an undisclosed financial settlement, follows a year of legal wrangling since the Guardian revealed striking similarities between the cauldron and a design for a pavilion developed by Atopia" (GUARDIAN, 7/23). ARCHITECTS' JOURNAL's Laura Mark wrote speaking on behalf of LOCOG, Philip Sykes confirmed the settlement agreement "excluded any acceptance of liability on the part of LOCOG or any one else." Heatherwick has always insisted that "his studio had not known about the earlier Atopia concept." As news broke of the settlement, which the studio had been unaware of until Thursday, Heatherwick said the designs were "categorically" those of his studio. He said, "I knew nothing of this settlement until today and it has no implication for any of the creative team. As we’ve said before, the design process was categorically our own, from start to finish" (ARCHITECTS' JOURNAL, 7/24). London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony Dir Danny Boyle said, "We tried to acknowledge all inspirations and contributions, great and small, and while it’s inevitable some were innocently overlooked, can assure everyone, the public, Atopia, LOCOG's liquidators, judges, lawyers, that at no point did any of the creative team involved in creating the Opening Ceremony see or hear about Atopia’s work" (DESIGN WEEK, 7/24).
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