Photographer's Blog: The MotoGP Championship Trophy
In August of last year I posted a desktop wallpaper on my website of the above image with a bit of information about the championship trophy's creator, GARCIAROJALS Studio in Barcelona. I'd seen the trophy up close for the first time while it was on display in the lobby of the mobile Dorna HQ building that travels to the European rounds. I was very impressed by the workmanship and design. It's quite a beaufitul bit of art, and I was pleased to share the above photo with others who shared that opinion.
Some time afterward I was contacted by Marc Garcia, the man who created the trophy. He'd found my post and from his email came the idea to do an interview about how the trohpy was designed and manufactured. For many months we've emailed questions and answers back and forth according to our own schedules, with sometimes several months passing in between communications. But I'm very pleased finally to be able to present the interview below. I should note that while Marc's English is much better than my Spanish, with his permission I sometimes rephrased his language to clarify what he intended to say. He has read and approved what follows.
Interview with Marc Garcia of GARCIAROJALS studio, creator of the MotoGP Championship trophy.
Background: Marc Garcia divided three years of Industrial Design study between Barcelona and Milan and worked in the Italian city for a further year and a half before returning to Barcelona to create GARCIAROJALS studio in 2005. The studio specializes in trophy and jewelry design when Garcia is not painting original designs on helmets via his other company, MAGAROPAINTINGS, which works with major helmet brands and riders.
MotoMatters: Do you work alone in the studio, or do you have a staff or partners for your design work?
Marc Garcia: I work by myself. I have no partners or assistants in the studio, as the design process is something you do alone. But translating my designs into the physical materials requires a strong team with the best people in each field to reach the goal of what I've imagined. For example, for the MotoGP trophy I worked with the most experienced silversmith in Barcelona and the best carbon fiber manufacturers in Spain to achieve the highest possible quality.
MM: How did GARCIAROJALS become involved with Dorna and how did you come to create the MotoGP championship trophy?
MG: In 2007 Dorna invited the studio to participate in a closed contest for designing the new trophy for MotoGP due to the change of the category to 800cc. They invited us because we already had experience designing trophies. Dorna gave us a briefing with short instructions of what the design should be; a trophy, not a cup; something that displays the history of the oldest motor sport championship; something classic but technologically contemporary. From that we created the actual "Champions Tower" MotoGP trophy.
MM: The design cleverly ties in several elements of racing: the concept of a waving checkered flag, the idea that each rider takes his place in an ascending line of past champions, even the official MotoGP logo, and the world TV feed opens with a computer animation of the trophy emerging from a kind of metallic liquid. Which came first in this collection of elements?
MG: We were inspired by the MotoGP logo, which represents the 5 continents, and the Vendome column in Paris.
From the logo we took the idea of a plaque shape for each year’s winner of the premiere class in MotoGP history. From the Vendome tower we took the idea of its construction, a spiral column that displays the history of the heroes of this sport from 1949 to the future.
The trophy is also inspired by the Tower of Babel, since in MotoGP there are pilots from all over the planet racing and living together with one unique dream and with the same goal: to reach the top. We wanted to create a trophy where every pilot would love to be represented and be made part of it, a unique, alive trophy that grows each year, and is endless. We wanted the trophy to explain the history of the championship all by itself. All these ideas mixed together into the checkered flag style silver plaques and with an extremely light base of carbon fiber. Dorna loves the design and this will be its flagship trophy from now on. The video computer animation emerging from a metallic liquid came later, the idea of the TV crew. I guess they got inspired by the "Terminator" film. [laughs]
MM: How long does it take to manufacture a single champion’s plaque, and how involved is the process? Are there many steps from beginning until the plaque piece is finished?
MG: From day one to the delivery date is about five days of work. Every single plaque is 14cm long, 8.5cm tall and 8 mm deep. As it is solid silver it would weight a lot so it is designed in 2 separate pieces. The main part is the frame which comes out of a silicon mould I made from the master piece.
The other piece is a silver plaque on which we engrave the year, the manufacturer, and the rider's name and number for each world champion.
The second piece is then curved over a wood cylinder.
Then the frame and the engraved plaque are welded together, resulting in a very strong silver piece.
After that we cut off the remaining edges of the plaque and we re-weld it until there are no imperfections in the piece.
Then is time to sand it down and prepare the finishing touches.
The inner part of the plaque always uses matte finish and in the lateral part of the frame always glossy finish. For the front, the finishes alternates between matte and glossy depending if the years are odd (glossy) or even (matte).
For final touch we coat it in silver to give an extra protection to the plaque. We use a wood and carbon fiber box to deliver each new champion's plaque to Dorna.
MM: When a new champion’s plaque is added to the trophy at the end of the season, does Dorna install the new piece or do you do that for them?
MG: Dorna can install the new piece, but as the presentation ceremony coincides with the end of the season, the trophy usually comes back to the studio for a few days in order to receive a general check up and an thorough cleaning. During the year it travels a lot and gets dirty with the air and lights, since it is 100% silver. After cleaning the components, we reinstall all the pieces to ensure a tight fit and include the new champion's piece (2011 Casey Stoner) and return it to Dorna in top condition.
MM: Some of the most interesting race trophies I see on the podium turn out to be from your studio. How do you approach designing a single event trophy, and what are some of your favorite designs from the past few seasons?
MG: Oh, you are very kind, thank you very much. I think there are two different kind of trophies. There are those that you can choose from a catalogue, which are pre-made and just a prize for the winner, with no special value. Then there are those that are custom produced from A to Z with the intention to honor someone for a special achievement. In our studio we are only interested in the second kind. We always treat every single project as unique and spend as much time on its design as necessary, finding out solutions, paying close attention to details, materials, shapes and so on, considering how it will be held, used, packaged, etc.
But, first of all, before designing a unique trophy, you need two things: a good client and a good idea. A good client will enter a close relationship with the studio and will be involved in every part of the process: briefing, concept, development, prototypes, samples, until we hit the target. A good idea would fit the client's needs with something emotional, giving to a trophy the desired and recognized characteristics that will make it unique to the occasion.
Professionalism, understanding and taking care of our clients in this way are what makes our studio different from the others. For example, for the MotoGP "Champions tower" (first used in 2007 and to remain in use until 2024) we used a mix of such a basic shapes as the cylinder and a complex structure of each piece supporting the next, but what makes the trophy stand out from the others is that every single pilot of the MotoGP championship wants to be part of it and be engraved with his own plaque. The desire to be included on this trophy is, to me, then defining emotion of this creation.
Another example is the San Marino MotoGP trophy design, where the three trophies on the podium represent the three towers on the top of Monte Titano's mountain, a unique characteristic of the trophy that defines both the event for which it was produced and the location of that event. By that I mean this is not a trophy for a golf tournament in Las Vegas, or even of MotoGP at any other track. It's uniquely a result of MotoGP at San Marino. The features that define this uniqueness are the main organizer color plaques, San Marino flag color ribbon and its unique air ventilated cylinder construction with rubber and carbon fibre base. This design has been used at San Marino since 2008.
As a last example: the St Mark's lion of Generali group, MotoGP Valencia, features a strong inox logo image that represents the history of the brand since 1831 until the present. To me this trophy shows our dedication to personalized design. After using this custom design in MotoGP, Generali is using it for awards within the company.
Motomatters would like to thank Marc Garcia for sharing the story of his work and photographs of the trophies. You can find him on Twitter: @garciarojals, on Facebook and on his website, garciarojals.com