At first glance, the Olympic torch that will be carried throughout Brazil before making its way to Rio de Janeiro for the opening of the 2016 summer games looks fairly nondescript: a two-foot long, white hunt of metal with a satin aluminum finish.
For the country that brought the world the caixirola – possibility the world’s most annoying and misunderstood World Cup noisemaker – and a slew of other ostentatious inventions (the Brazilian-cut bikini, anyone?), the 2016 Olympic torch seems just too subdued for the country of Carnival.
But then wait for the hand-off.
When torchbearers pass it along the next runner – also known as the kiss – the next bearer will turn a knob to ignite a gas valve that will cause the top of the white cone to expand and reveal four undulating ribbons of bright, metallic colors. These colors are meant to represent Brazil's five wonders (yellow for the sky, green for the mountains, light blue for the sea and a darker blue for the ground, and the bottom ring represents the dark Copacabana sidewalk).
Designed by Chelles & Hayashi Design, a Brazilian studio specializing in appliances and branding, eight people worked on the project that hoped to meld all of the various aspects of life in the country without muddling the message of the country of the games.
"When you look at it, you have to see the concepts and meanings of the symbol, but it also has to be effective as an icon," Gustavo Chelles, a co-founder of the studio, told Wired magazine.
Chelles added that when closed the torch is meant to reflect equality amongst humans, but when opened it represents the diversity and vibrancy of Brazil. The colored bands also "enhance the sense of movement" and will make great photo opportunities, he added.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced that 12,000 people will be chosen to carry the Olympic torch through some 300 Brazilian cities next year and that the relay will begin in the Brazilian capital in May and will end at Rio's Maracanã stadium in August, at the Olympic's opening ceremony. Each torchbearer will carry it 300 meters, or about 980 feet.