- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2013

Designers with the New York firm Atopia are seeing red, accusing the maker of the much-praised cauldron for the London Olympics of pilfering their idea.

The Olympic cauldron was unveiled in July, earning designer Thomas Heatherwick awards for originality and royal recognition from Queen Elizabeth II, who added him to her birthday honor’s list.

Too bad, said Atopia, that he didn’t actually design the monument — and company executives are now coming on strong with the accusation, freed from the constraints of a five-year gag order that’s imposed on all Olympic project bidders, The Guardian reported.

In 2007, Atopia said, it proposed a design for the cauldron to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games that featured a monument of petals atop long stems. The story behind the design: The petals “would travel from all of the participating countries, then be brought into the stadium by children. The petals would be assembled during the opening ceremony to form a flower-like canopy and distributed back to the different nations after the Games,” said Atopi Co-Director Jane Harrison in The Guardian.


She said the firm never heard back from the committee. And several years passed — and then came Mr. Heatherwick’s winning piece.

The Olympic cauldron he designed featured a polished grouping of copper petals atop long dandelion stems. And his story line was similar: The 205 participating nations would all take back their metal dishes at the end of the Games.

“We were absolutely furious,” Ms. Harrison said about Mr. Heatherwick’s design, The Guardian reported. “It looked identical to [what] we had proposed to the London Olympic committee back in 2007, after which we hadn’t heard anything.”

Heatherwick Studio denies stealing the idea.

“This has come completely out of the blue,” a spokesperson for the studio said in The Guardian. “We have never seen this project before, nor were we made aware of it by Locog. The creative ideas for the cauldron were very much born from a conversation between Danny Boyle and Thomas Heatherwick.”