THE OLYMPIC CAULDRON
Created by WET Design, the Universal City, Calif., firm that dreamed up the $28 million fountain at Las Vegas's Bellagio hotel, the 130-foot-tall cauldron is made up of 736 blue-green glass panels topped by a 12-foot-high glass prism bowl. After the Olympic flame is lit, water will cascade down the inside of the bowl to cool the glass. "The theme of these Games is 'light the fire within,' so the entire chalice is transparent," says Mark Fuller, head of WET. "We wanted to capture Utah's mountain colors with the blues and greens, and the desert colors with the orange of the flame."
While designing uniforms for the Canadian, Japanese, Spanish and Swiss teams, Eiko Ishioka, an Oscar-winning production and costume designer, learned that many athletes wanted somewhere to go in the moments before their events to gather their thoughts. In response Ishioka, working with designers from @radical.media and athletic-wear manufacturer Descente, created the cocoon, a portable "concentration coat," as she describes it. Made of the same lightweight material that ski jumpers wear, the cocoon zips up to block out all outside stimuli and features interior pockets to hold portable music players. "Space is hard to come by at the Olympics," says Ishioka. "This affords athletes the solitude they need." Alpine skiers for Canada, Spain and Switzerland will use the cocoon in Salt Lake City.
THE OLYMPIC MEDALS
For the first time in 18 years, Olympians will have noncircular medals presented to them on the podium. Designed by Brent Watts, founder of Salt Lake City's Axiom Design, the medals are in the shape of river rocks found in the streams of Utah. Though Watt notes the IOC is more accepting of unconventional concepts for the Winter Games than for the Summer Olympics, "we received some resistance to the irregular design," he says. "But we felt strongly they should be symbolic of the American West." Each medal's front shows an athlete emerging from a wall of fire, while the back portrays Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. Says Watts, "There's tremendous pressure when you're creating something that represents the height of an athlete's success."