Loud1Design was subcontracted to 4cDesign who were awarded the contract to design the Queen’s Baton for the International Baton Relay touring the 71 nations of the commonwealth in the lead up to the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. Working as an integral part of the design team, Loud1Design was involved throughout the concept design phase of the baton, with 4c and other associates and partners carrying out the final detailing and manufacturing of the finished baton.
Concept and Storyboard
The initial brainstorms were distilled down into a number of keywords that summed up the values that we all felt represented the baton, such as; ceremony, lattice, natural, gallus, symbolic, intricate. Moodboards of photos were pulled together to serve as inspiration during design development.
Following the initial brainstorms I drew up an outline storyboard which whilst intended to be generic and not prescriptive as to the aesthetic of the baton, did start to show something of the eventual forms.
Algorithmic Lattice Design
Early on, we began looking at using 3D printing and sintering technologies to achieve the lattice form, but parallel to this research into the manufacturing possibilities and limit,s the form and aesthetic of the baton and lattice were being developed. After some exploration of other approaches to the lattice such as one based on 3D voronoi cells (this will be covered in a later detailed blog and tutorial), the direction became quite clearly an intersecting lattice of sweeping metal rings. The video below outlines this algorithmic approach to the design intent and its relevance to the baton design
The full technical details of the workflow will be described in a later blog post for those with an interest on the details of the approach taken in Grasshopper.
Twists and Puzzles
A key goal that emerged was the desire for a moment of “mechanical theatre” in the unveiling of the Queen’s message, imagining similar moments in fantasy films such as the golden snitch “I open at the close” of the final Harry Potter film. We wanted to have the queen’s message veiled but visible, almost as a teaser as to what the message might be or how it could have got in there.
I had travelled to Japan on honeymoon, visiting the resort town of Hakone west of Tokyo where they have the tradition of creating “Karakuri” puzzle boxes. These were originally used as training exercises for apprentice carpenters and the intricacy and precision of japanese carpentry is truly inspiring to behold. These karakuri usually create hidden compartments and involve multiple movements to access them. The small box I gifted my father-in-law on our return form Japan prompted me to research further into the tradition.
You can find out more about the tradition of Karakuri and the amazingly talented craftspeople of Hakone here; Hakone Karakuri museum
Inspired by the karakuri creators of Hakone, the following prototype was put together in lasercut transparent acrylic in the MAKlab;
The idea was to implement the central small element as the gem that would be given away to each participating nation, and the secret compartment as the vessel for the Queen’s message. The box lid rotates in one direction to open up the four leaves, allowing the central gem to be released. Once and only once the “gem” is removed form the centre, can the leaves be rotated back in the opposite direction and given an extra quarter turn to release the lid from the box, exposing the secret compartment.
This was then developed into a fully realised machined mechanism by the team at 4c including a further damper feature for release of the gemstones and escapement features to prevent accidental release.
This was an inspiring project to be involved in and it was an honour to be part of something which was intended to welcome and invite so many people from around the world to Glasgow. The real reward in this project has been to see the smiles of kids around the world enjoying the spectacle and community around the baton, and I hope my contributions were worthy of that.
Please look through the Commonwealth Games flickr photostream to see the remarkable journey the baton made.