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London 2012 Olympic Cauldron...


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I realize there is such a phenomenon as 'creative synchronicty' (pgs..49-50 in my book), However, it is amazing how close these designs are. And if I interpret the article right, Atopia did fulfill LOCOG's first demand that it was something that "...could sit on the roof with NO moving parts" -- which (the second part) I remember reading was also the dictum given to Heatherwick...but TH completely disregarded that original specification.

My guess here is that someone at LOCOG slipped a copy of the Atopia design to Heatherwick with NO attribution. And TH just ran away with it...not realizing it was already a colleague's previous design.

The situation answers why Org COmmittees would rather commission works ("works for hire"), music, etc., etc. because of legal minefields like this. And the parties who claim 'intellectual theft' have very little recourse, even if they may be in the right...since the Org Committees cease to exist after a year; all its assets have already been distributed. So what is there to go after??

This was the same case as my design for the Beijing torch. My idea was a scroll. It's really very hard to protect and quanitify 'fleeting ideas.' I wonder why Heatherwick called his concept and design as 'fleeting and ephemeral'? Was it to say...that they won't be around forever, so there is really nothing to go after anymore??

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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I realize there is such a phenomenon as 'creative synchronicty' (pgs..49-50 in my book), However, it is amazing how close these designs are. And if I interpret the article right, Atopia did fulfill LOCOG's first demand that it was something that "...could sit on the roof with NO moving parts" -- which (the second part) I remember reading was also the dictum given to Heatherwick...but TH completely disregarded that original specification.

My guess here is that someone at LOCOG slipped a copy of the Atopia design to Heatherwick with NO attribution. And TH just ran away with it...not realizing it was already a colleague's previous design.

Yes. it might not even be as blatant as that. I'm inclined to believe the idea and design of the cauldron was Heatherwick's alone (it's very similar to previous spindly designs he's done actually), but perhaps the assembly/narrative/carrying of the petals had its origins in the other agency's idea and someone at LOCOG suggested it could develop in that way. Hard to believe there's absolutely no connection.

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ATOPIA Innovation

EMAIL
anticipate@atopiainnovation.com

NEW YORK
tel/fax:+1.917.284.8942

LONDON
tel/fax:+44.(0)208.584.0044

The companys motto is: ANTICIPATE THE FUTURE ATOPIA Innovation is a global design and innovation consultancy that addresses big problems and high visibility, high impact challenges, with a unique fusion of creativity, interdisciplinary thinking and practical design. We help clients with major projects avoid the trap of the mundane and incremental, transforming their project, combining planning and the power of design, intelligent economics, environmental responsibility and the promise of new technology.

here is part of their London 2012 "Olympic Flower" scetchbook which was presented to LOCOG

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Edited by paul
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wow. Obviously, while Heatherwick added the whole flower, moving thing...but the idea of the umbrellas/petals coming from other countries, being walked in by children into the Ceremony, and then being sent back to their original countries is a series of ideas just too spot-on and unique to be dismissed as MERE coincidences.

And the fact that Atopia was under a gag under Jan 2013 plus the fact that they respected the confidentiality terms until its expiration, bespeaks their consummate professionalism. Easy for Boyle & Heatherwick to dismiss these claims.

Obviously, someone at LOCOG removed the Atopia attribution and then somehow slipped the ideas to someone on Boyle's team...who then passed them on to Heatherwick. Will ask my LOCOG contact and see what he says.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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I'm sorry, but both this cauldron story and the recent news about the Green and Pleasant set look very bad. In both cases the similarities are extremely strong. In both cases it has been proven that LOCOG has access to the ideas well before making the final creative decisions. There is way too much smoke here for there to be no fire.

I believe Danny Boyle, Thomas Heatherwick and LOCOG are lying. What an ugly, ugly blot on London's legacy.

I believe that last line is libellous.

The "Green and Pleasant" set is most likely to have been unconsciously influenced by JRR Tolkien's illustration "The Hill: Hobbiton Across the Water" from "The Hobbit" ( http://www.museumsyndicate.com/item.php?item=34468 ). The cauldron is most likely to have been influenced by one or more members of LOCOG in a casual, conversational way, based on their memories of the Atopia pavilion design (about which one thing puzzles me- why the heck did they want the pavilion to be created within the stadium during the opening ceremony at all?).

Heatherwick is known for his originality; it makes no sense for him deliberately to steal an idea, and as he says: "“If there was a pre-existing idea we would have moved away from it as a point of principle." In all probability, even the LOCOG member(s) in question never realised the extent to which their encouragement of the design direction Heatherwick was taking was based on memories.

Heetherwick quote above from Building Design

( http://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/thomas-heatherwick-outraged-by-olympic-plagiarism-row/5056643.article )

from which I also quote the following:

"Jackie Brock-Doyle, former director of communications at Locog, told BD that Atopia did not submit any images with its five-page written proposal for the One World pavilion in 2007.

Asked about Atopia’s 29-page illustrated document on the Guardian website, she said: “That’s not what they submitted. We haven’t seen those images at all.”

She said the idea of children bringing things to the Olympic park and then returning with them to their nations dated back to the time of London’s original Olympic bid."

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/\/\ Alright then, why did Atopia sign a "gag" order which gagged them until January 2013?? I am sure they can bring out that document; yet they respected it. Also, this Jane Harrison, who seems like a principal partner in Atopia, did study or train in the UK, so she certainly knows the pulse and culture of the British design community.

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/\/\ Alright then, why did Atopia sign a "gag" order which gagged them until January 2013??

Overzealous protection of IOC sponsors I'm afraid. Quite a fuss was kicked up about it at the time as all suppliers had to sign to the same terms

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/jan/11/olympic-companies-ban-promoting-work-games

:

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Getting involved ($$-wise) in the Olympics is one of the most IDIOTIC things ever to happen. Imagine investing $60- 70 - 80 million for a few years just to get their RETARDED, UGLY logos (of late) and the 5 rings on your advertising AND maybe 120 tix to the best seats in the Games. Ha!! Thank God I'm not part of any corporation that gets extorted by the IOC to pay for their megalomaniac Games. Yeah, FIFA may be more corrupt but at least as a sponsor, you actually get to see your brand in the FOP. Crazy world.

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I believe that last line is libellous.

Saying that I believe someone is lying is not libelous. It's a statement of fact about my beliefs. Regardless, the cauldron design and Green and Pleasant concept both bear exceptionally strong resemblance to work developed by others and submitted to LOCOG plenty early enough to be pirated. That alone is a blot on London's legacy irrespective of the degree to which anything can be proven.

As somebody who works in a creative field, I can usually spot the difference between coincidental similarity and wholesale theft. If we had been talking about ONLY Green and Pleasant or ONLY the cauldron, perhaps I could allow a bit more margin for grace, although I still think the credibility of LOCOG's story would be strained at best. However, both of these scenarios put together are far too much to ignore and suggest a pattern that is quite troubling.

"Disgrace" is the word that comes to mind.

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Hetherwick - Hong Kong Standard

Was reading this article about the cauldron plagiarism and came across this interesting quote:

Locog's former design principal, Kevin Owens, called it "unfortunate.''
"Atopia really are forward thinkers. Strands of their work became part of what was taken forward, and I wish there was a way we could acknowledge that."
Owens said he had never seen images of their proposals, but that their strong narrative must have "stayed in the psyche" of his colleagues, who commissioned the opening ceremony. "We can only assume that similar conclusions were drawn by the designers," he added.

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Here's one thing that confuses me though:

Atopia has released a copy of its booklet which shows the ideas for a "Pavilion;" but at the same time the news reports quote them as saying the specs they got from LOCOG was to design something that would "...go on the roof with no moving parts." The two pieces are NOT compatible.

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Here's one thing that confuses me though:

Atopia has released a copy of its booklet which shows the ideas for a "Pavilion;" but at the same time the news reports quote them as saying the specs they got from LOCOG was to design something that would "...go on the roof with no moving parts." The two pieces are NOT compatible.

The quote is not from Atopia about their brief, but from Heatherwick, about his!

If the "children bringing an object for each country" notion really was in the original London bid proposal, then using it for the cauldron would be a natural response from the OC planners- the objects wouldn't have to move once put in place. In such a scenario, the basic principle used by both Atopia and Heatherwick is thus a given; the "moving parts" idea comes purely from Heatherwick and Boyle, and LOCOG state that the illustrations provided by Atopia to The Guardian showing the specific design of the "petals" were not in the proposal they actually submitted in 2007.

I wonder if Athensfan actually bothered to glance at the Tolkien illustration for which I provided a link, showing almost every element of the "Green and Pleasant" set, right down to the waterwheel and the hollow hill with a track winding up its visible face- and a tree on the summit (and fluffy white clouds too)?

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I wonder if Athensfan actually bothered to glance at the Tolkien illustration for which I provided a link, showing almost every element of the "Green and Pleasant" set, right down to the waterwheel and the hollow hill with a track winding up its visible face- and a tree on the summit (and fluffy white clouds too)?

No need to wonder. I looked at it. It is nowhere near as close as the recently publicized design which (apart from the oval shape) looks almost exactly like the finished set.

For me the big giveaway is the stepped tor -- something unique that does not feature in the Tolkien illustration. The Tolkien architecture is also clearly fanciful. There are plots of farmland and a hill, but that's it. I don't think it supports Boyle's case at all.

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"Jackie Brock-Doyle, former director of communications at Locog, told BD that Atopia did not submit any images with its five-page written proposal for the One World pavilion in 2007.

Asked about Atopia’s 29-page illustrated document on the Guardian website, she said: “That’s not what they submitted. We haven’t seen those images at all.”

The sketchbook dates February 2008. [ page 2-3 http://issuu.com/atopia/docs/london_2012_sketchbook_copyright ]

The previous version of the sketchbook had this date stamp on every page. For some reason they have changed and reuploaded the book Thursday night.

New statement from Atopia:

ATOPIA London 2012 Press Statement “We have never accused Thomas Heatherwick of plagiarism. We have never claimed to be designers of the cauldron. We are entirely focused on the issue of how ideas transmit through large organizations, often organically and unconsciously. This becomes an even more complex issue when work and material submitted by small organizations is subject to stringent Confidentiality Agreements. The issue for us is not about the object nor is it about Heatherwick’s design. It does bear a striking resemblance to our project work and sketchbook from 2008 and as such this has been the point of focus of the press. But for us this is not the point. It is the written narrative that we are concerned with as this is key component in the way we work, developing scenarios for clients that allow them to imagine possibilities years ahead of time and catalyze thinking within their organizations to deliver socially engaged innovation­­­­. It is the narrative scenario along with our other tender content that we believe proved inspirational at LOCOG and this is what it was intended to do. All we have sought from LOCOG since July 2012 is a formal acknowledgement of this.”
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And for that they felt the need to address the press - just for a mere acknowledgment that their idea went into the cauldron design process? And they claim that now, although their co-director already had stated that "we were absolutely furious. It was a crushing disappointment. We were led to believe it was a confidential presentation to the high-level board, so it was even more shocking to see the ideas had been taken forward by others without us. We are a small office, so we can't afford to launch legal action"? :blink: I smell a rat here.

And am I the only one who is puzzled why they went to the media with that in June although they were sworn to secrecy only until January?

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Who knows. All very odd. Sounds like there could've been a bit more openness and transparency from both sides here. It sounds like it wouldn't do LOCOG (or what's left of it if anything) any harm to acknowledge this firm if elements of their idea were indeed carried forward. And for Atopia, why is it only now that we're hearing that they were hired - seemingly - as consultants, a source of inspiration if you will, rather than actual designers. Of course elements of their ideas could conceivably be carried forward within LOCOG if that's the case, in fact it's entirely probable that LOCOG owned the rights to the ideas to do what they wanted with!

I think the whole situation needs calming. A little stirring by the press probably hasn't done much good. The more I hear, the less I think anything untoward has happened. A little acknowledgement from both sides is all that's needed.

Edited by RobH
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For me the big giveaway is the stepped tor -- something unique that does not feature in the Tolkien illustration.

It doesn't really feature in the "Green and Pleasant" set either. Like Tolkien's hill (and to an extent, like the real Glastonbury Tor) the set features a track winding up one face, not a spiral as shown in the plagiarism-claim design. And you forgot about other things like the whitewashed cottages in the middle.

By the way, on the subtly-evolving cauldron claim- what we need now is a copy of London's original bid, to see how well-developed the "children carrying things concept" was pre-2007.

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If I remember correctly, this was related to the scrapped FriendShip idea. The ship - mostly crewed by children and young adults - was to go on a tour around the globe and on each stop off its crew would be given a gift representing the nation it was at. On the night of the opening ceremony the ship was meant to dock in London near the stadium, with the gifts brought off the boat into the stadium by those who'd sailed on it. So the seed of such an idea was sewn as early as 2004. Who knows whether Atopia simply developed this on instruction, or came up with a similar idea independently?

EDIT: Bid book here for anyone who wants to look it up...

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20070305103412/http:/www.london2012.com/news/publications/candidate-file.php

Edited by RobH
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If I remember correctly, this was related to the scrapped FriendShip idea. The ship - mostly crewed by children and young adults - was to go on a tour around the globe and on each stop off its crew would be given a gift representing the nation it was at. On the night of the opening ceremony the ship was meant to dock in London near the stadium, with the gifts brought off the boat into the stadium by those who'd sailed on it. So the seed of such an idea was sewn as early as 2004. Who knows whether Atopia simply developed this on instruction, or came up with a similar idea independently?

EDIT: Bid book here for anyone who wants to look it up...

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20070305103412/http:/www.london2012.com/news/publications/candidate-file.php

To convey Olympism in a unified and dramatic way, London
2012 proposes the concept of the Olympic Friend-ship:
a full-size, ocean-going clipper, crewed by young people,
artists, philosophers and students under the command
of professional officers. Launched at the Beijing Games in
2008, the ship will travel the world in the lead-up to the 2012
Games. In parallel, a virtual vessel will sail the internet and
form the basis of a four-year education programme linked
to the National Curriculum for schools in the UK.
The Olympic Friend-ship’s voyage will be a journey of
discovery, carrying a cargo emblematic of the UK’s cultural
riches. In turn, every nation visited will have the opportunity
to contribute to the vessel’s cargo – either in real terms
or virtually via the website. Through dialogue and exchange,
creativity and sharing, the UK will use this voyage to redefine
its relationship to world cultures and celebrate London’s
new role as Host City.
To herald the Games, the Olympic Friend-ship will make
a triumphant entrance up the River Thames to the mouth
of its tributary River Lea, which leads to the new Olympic
Park. The ship’s arrival will formally proclaim the renaissance
of east London.

[Theme 17: Olympism and culture - page 173]

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Thanks, for finding that, was being lazy. Entirely possible LOCOG had that kind of idea somewhere, Atopia developed it in a different direction in their consultancy role after the FriendShip idea was scrapped (which must've been around 2007/8), and then all of this fed into the cauldron concept.

Edited by RobH
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And am I the only one who is puzzled why they went to the media with that in June although they were sworn to secrecy only until January?

I think that the Guardian and the Telegraph were sitting on the two stories for quite awhile; and they were waiting for: (1) who would go first? (2) would they wait for the 1st anniversary in July? (3) would they break together? or (4) release ASAP on the Guardian's part because the Snowden story was also breaking. I mean make it a whole week of exposes? Obviously, the boys at the Guardian were incredibly busy!!

But what these artists want is merely some acknowledgment that their work somehow saw fruition in the finished product. It is a known fact that what they submitted to LOCOG was solicited and early on BEFORE Boyle and Heatherwick were engaged; signed confidentiality agmts and then never hearing back from LOCOG. So, it indeed it is perfectly understandable the shock and horror of seeing your ideas executed on the global screen without so much as "by your leave." There will be no monetary rewards exchanged here because LOCOG is already in its sunset days. It will have relinquished all its remaining assets. All Atopia and Lee wanted was some sort of acknowledgement; and not the subterfuge and denial now coming from Boyle & Heatherwick.

Who knows? Maybe the crop-circle goblins are at work again since Boyle ignored them at the Opening (and I had hoped they would feature)?

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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Thanks, for finding that, was being lazy. Entirely possible LOCOG had that kind of idea somewhere, Atopia developed it in a different direction in their consultancy role after the FriendShip idea was scrapped (which must've been around 2007/8), and then all of this fed into the cauldron concept.

It says it was supposed to tie into the closing ceremony in Beijing and the theme of "setting sail on a journey of hope". I haven't seen the Beijing closing but I'm pretty sure this theme never actually appeared in the ceremony, and maybe when it was scrapped the Friend-ship was scrapped as well.

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It says it was supposed to tie into the closing ceremony in Beijing and the theme of "setting sail on a journey of hope". I haven't seen the Beijing closing but I'm pretty sure this theme never actually appeared in the ceremony, and maybe when it was scrapped the Friend-ship was scrapped as well.

The "Friend-ship" thing was just a fanciful idea that looked good in the Bid Book. What occurred at the Closing in Beijing in the London Handover portion, was the use of a double-decker bus. So in a way, there was the idea of a conveyance transport again...however, it was just now a bus.

Here's what I think happened:

1. Someone (I wish that someone or the letter could be identified) obviously at LOCOG solicited some ideas from Atopia (probably on a general basis, not cauldron-specific). I mean why would a New York design firm reply to a London bid when there are many equally capable firms in the UK, unless it was specifically invited? And the submission was never returned unopened. So, somehow, it was received.

2. Atopia storybooks a whole presentation focused on the Opening Ceremony. However, what Atopia presented was NOT for a cauldron but a sort of 'Pavilion' outside the Stadium.

Then Atopia didn't hear anything more from LOCOG.

3. Flashforward a few years later, on July 27, 2012 -- lo and behold...similar designs, the right same scenario of children walking with each national delegation in; and THEN the other bookend idea of sending the burnt 'petals'/'umbrellas' back home with each nation, is RIGHT THERE!!

If I authored that booklet, how could I not think that that was my idea EXCEPT THAT I had signed a 'gag order' not being able to complain until after January 2013. (I think Atopia got bad legal advice. I would talked to the press the day AFTER the Ceremony. But then again, they didn't ask me.)

That's how I believe it happened; and in the dozens of staffers employed by LOCOG in the frenzy of preparations, I believe Atopia's ideas (and it looks like they DID NOT brand each page of their submission booklet) ended up on Danny Boyle's team and they came to believe that they came up with those original ideas; and whomever introduced the ideas from the booklet, just shut up.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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Timeline stuff:

uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/gamesmonitor/message/400
Press release published on Games Monitor
4 January 2007
Olympic ship plan sails into doubt

The 'Olympic FriendShip' - one of the flagship ideas of the London 2012 cultural package – is being reconsidered, according to new information released to Jenny Jones, Green Party member of the London Assembly.

... in response to a formal question from Jenny Jones, the Mayor stated:
"The sentiment behind the original friendship proposal is still very much alive and the London Olympic Games Organising Committee are investigating how best to meet the stated aims of promoting friendship and intercultural exchange between young people. This review includes considering whether a physical ship is the best way to meet these objectives and no final decision has yet been made about precisely how the friendship element of the cultural programme will be delivered."


http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/london_2012/7290404.stm
London 2012 to shelve ship idea
11 March 2008

"Aside from the debate about the increase in the budget for the Games, the decision by the organisers to scrap the Olympic Friend-ship is probably the most significant broken promise since the bid was won in July 2005. "

So it would appear that, from early 2007, LOCOG was looking for alternatives to the Friend Ship. They probably indicated such a desire (without necessarily mentioning the abandonment) in their subsequent requests for submissions from creatives, including both the Sustainability Pavilion and the Opening Ceremony.

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That's how I believe it happened; and in the dozens of staffers employed by LOCOG in the frenzy of preparations, I believe Atopia's ideas (and it looks like they DID NOT brand each page of their submission booklet) ended up on Danny Boyle's team and they came to believe that they came up with those original ideas; and whomever introduced the ideas from the booklet, just shut up.

Very true, this is how it could have happened indeed.

I'm sure that Thomas Heatherwick didn't want to admit that not he himself, but the other members of the ceremonial team came up with "Hey, someone of our staff once told me about an idea of spindles with petals on them, resembling all nations participating in the Games. Couldn't that be a nice concept for a cauldron? Thomas, would you care to evolve that idea?"

And just like you did before: I wonder what the hell Atopia thought when they created their concept: Why should their petal structure become a pavilion outside the Olympic Stadium but be constructed inside the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony? What sense does that make if it's only a bloody pavilion but nothing of use for the actual opening ceremony (like a cauldron)? So to cut a long story short: Why didn't they make a cauldron concept out of it in the first place?

That's why I deem their whining about the duplicity of their design and the cauldron design a bit exaggerated - if they wanted to get acknowledgment for having the original idea for the cauldron structure, then they should have bid for designing the cauldron right from the start and not for designing such an abstract "pavilion".

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