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As the design and manufacturing team behind the Queen’s Baton for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, 4c Design now has a footprint on the world.

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4c Design was started in 2002 by product design and engineering graduates, Robin Smith and Peter Inglis, fresh out of Glasgow School of Art.

Their bold decision paid off. Over a decade later the product design engineering consultancy has worked on projects as diverse as fast rescue craft launch and recovery systems for the oil and gas industry, through to innovative new infant baby alarms.

4c Design operates across a range of sectors, including offshore, defence, life science, renewables, industrial engineering and consumer. Ewan Macpherson, associate director, explains: “We’re agnostic about sectors and we definitely don’t want to be pigeon-holed. Our expertise is in process and innovation across a range of sectors. Ultimately we create things that have never been made before.”

As the design and manufacturing team behind the Queen’s Baton for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the product design and engineering specialists now has a footprint on the world.

An iconic brief 

2014 was a year dominated by exciting new challenges for 4c Design following a successful tender for the design contract for the Glasgow 2014 Queen’s Baton – arguably one of the most recognised symbols of the Games.

Unlike the multiple torches designed for the Olympics, there is only one Baton created and used throughout the whole of the Commonwealth Games – housing the Queen’s message.

Queens baton
4c sanding the Queen's baton

The brief was different to traditional design briefs. It asked the applicants to illustrate their solution. Will Mitchel, design director, explains: “This was a totally new challenge. The team were particularly enthused by the fresh approach as it concentrated on our capability rather than seeking an instant solution lacking rigorous preparation as is often sought in the normal tender process.”

The Baton had to reflect three key themes: culture, sport and message. The design process started with a consultation. Twenty-four committees were asked to contribute their thoughts to ensure the Queens Baton was inclusive and representative of the many stakeholders.

  • The reading of the Queen’s message signifies the beginning of the games and had to look perfect. The final scroll concept had to reflect its regal purpose.
  • Culture was an area where Glasgow’s talents could shine, particularly engineering, hence the intricate lattice work design comprising the main body of the Baton.
  • Sport had to be at the centre of everything. The handle was designed to the same specifications of an athlete’s baton. This was relevant as the Queen's Baton would then be passed into the hands of 4,000 baton bearers across 70 nations and territories in 288 days – including 4C Design’s Will who carried the Queen's Baton past Glasgow School of Art. 

Going for gold

Winning Gold for design at the Marketing Society Scotland Star Awards 2014, 4c Design were applauded for the Queen’s Baton’s contribution to the Games’ global marketing campaign.

Honoured by the award and also very surprised, Ewan said: “We never really saw it as marketing. We were simply doing what we were good at and ended up playing an integral part in the Games global awareness.”

4c Design has experienced a noticeable boost in business after they created one of the most recognisable items in the world in 2014, proving the Games not only raised Scotland’s profile but also showcased its talents.

The company has received more business enquiries and their increased profile has attracted new clients covering industries they have never worked with before including large distilling groups. In addition, there have been some exciting new projects in the pipeline including a new venture with an animal welfare organisation in Australia.

Glasgow 2014’s legacy should be about positivity and genuine self-confidence on the world stage, because now we, as a company and a country, know we can do it.

Ewan Macpherson, associate director, 4C Design

Ewan continues: “We see no boundaries, the bulk of our work remains in Scotland, but that is changing. Thanks to the Games we now no longer get questions about our capabilities, we have more than proved ourselves and our clients feel they are in safe hands.

4c Design has also seen noticeable changes to their business internally following their work during the Games. Due to the tight schedule and un-moveable delivery date the project engaged and focused the entire team which only strengthened their offering.

With support from Cooperative Development Scotland the business has recently become employee owned, a journey 4c Design has been planning for some time. The Games project lent considerable focus and clarity to the underlying team values of the company and highlighted the importance of a strong and shared culture.

Ewan adds: “I am very proud of our team and the incredible results we achieve from working together. Our new structure builds on our shared success of the Queen’s Baton and will help us drive the business forward.

“2014’s Legacy should be about positivity and genuine self-confidence on the world stage, because now we, as a company and a country know we can do it together.”

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