Heatherwick Studio – Making up Things

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This past Friday I attended a lecture by Neil Hubbard, a representative of Heatherwick Studio. British designer Thomas Heatherwick founded Heatherwick Studio in 1994 to bring craft, design, architecture and urban planning together in a single work space from their studio in King’s Cross, London.

Their projects and clients are numerous and I have collected a series of my favorite images of their work.

Paddingtion Rolling Bridge

A bridge created to allow pedestrian traffic as well as boats while remaining an unbroken form. An amazing re imagining of design.

UK Pavillion, 2010 Shanghai Expo – Seed Cathedral

A fiber optic building encasing seeds in thousands of glass rods that glowed from within.

Bombay Sapphire Botanical Distillery

A beautifully designed green house as part of a renovation project that expresses Bombay Sapphire’s use of natural herbs and spices in their distilleries.

New London Route Master Bus

A beautiful redesign for the iconic London bus that uses unbroken curves and lines but allows for greater freedom with and open rear door as an homage to the original.

The Hive University Building, Singapore

A fully concrete University building without edges of corners to encourage interaction among students in a centralized communal space.

London 2012 Olympic Cauldron

A cauldron made of over 200 copper kettles each representing a country participating in the Olympic games that forms into one. After the games each country was presented with their kettle.

I appreciate that a big block of images doesn’t demonstrate a lot. But I was blown away by the collection of magnificent project undertaken. Their breadth of style, function and design. I think it would be impossible for me to illustrate the work of Heatherwick Studio without this.

Many design agencies seem to have a particular style, which I can understand. A methodology specific to them that they excel in and gives potential clients an idea of what they will get for their money. A distinctive brand is key to building notoriety. But Neil said.

“Every brief gives you an opportunity to do something new. It is not a problem to be overcome, but an opportunity to invent and be creative.” 

This shows in Heatherwick’s work. Each project has been given its own context. Where it is? What surrounds it? What’s its purpose/ its function? Each of these are unique questions for each project. Thus a unique solution is called for every time.

“Some things don’t need making, but designers can make them happen”

An example given was in the Paddington Rolling Bridge (pictured above). The utilitarian thing to do would have been to follow long held designs of the past and build a draw bridge or raise foot bridge. But the rolling bridge is different, not necessarily practically any better. But something beautiful.

My thoughts

I have already spewed a lot of my thoughts as they occurred to me. This work is incredible and I would be very privileged to ever have a part in something as prestigious and historic as these projects. But recently I have learned so much about what design is that I had not understood prior.

Design is infinite, any project if approached by a 1000 designers may turn up 1000 unique ideas, all of which may be viable. That is what I find so fascinating about design as a subject. There is no right way to go about creating something. There can be guidelines and tutorials that help you be methodical in the way you work. But the outcome is always different.

The trick seems to be to not approach anything with preconceived ideas of what you will create. Start from nothing, look at the brief, look at the context and treat that as your beginning. Other, previous solutions may be good but your job is not to copy. It is to innovate.

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Author: David Rothwell

I am a Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan School of Art and Design If you like any of my work, have feedback (good or bad) or would like to get in touch, please do

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