Thomas Heatherwick

British Council & Colossal Photos

Inside Heatherwick Studio

by Kate Goodwin 

Located in London, at the heart of a dynamic international city, Heatherwick Studio is at the forefront of a new wave of British designers that are pioneering inventive and original production. Heatherwick Studio distinguishes itself through the ever-growing scale and ambition of its projects. Resisting conventional categorisation, the studio operates across multiple disciplines from furniture and product design to architecture and urban planning. Inspired by the UK’s rich history of great inventors and designers, Thomas Heatherwick leads the 160-person studio to challenge established thinking and push ideas to new limits.

Heatherwick has always been interested in imaginative ideas and sculptural forms. He pursued a career in design rather than fine art, to create things that people would use or inhabit day-to-day, thus exerting a wide-reaching influence. His studies in three-dimensional design at Manchester Polytechnic and later at the Royal College of Art in London led him to experiment with different materials, testing their uses and how they could be crafted to discover unexpected outcomes. It is a practice that has been embedded within the studio, which continues to have a workshop at its heart. Even as a student, Heatherwick pursued projects of a more ambitious scale than his contemporaries. In his final year in Manchester, he designed a small pavilion, secured sponsorship and a site, and enlisted the help of students and tutors to build it.

Thomas Heatherwick Exhibition

KIAT (System Sovereign)

The desire to create projects beyond the scope of any one individual prompted the founding of Heatherwick Studio in 1994. The majority of the early realised projects were in the realm of design – furniture and products, creative interventions in the urban realm, permanent or temporary pavilions, interiors or façades. In 2001, the studio received its first architectural commission, and although never realised, it set the scene for a shift into the architectural and urban-scale work of the studio today. While the size, composition and operation of the studio has altered significantly since the early years, the culture of the studio and its design ethos remains fundamentally unchanged. The studio applies the same creative process to the design of a chair as it does to a building.

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