Last week I attended a brilliant lecture by Thomas Heatherwick, a most inspiring contemporary designer based in London. Heatherwick Studio is currently working on Google’s new California Headquarters with Bjarke Ingels as well as a couple of projects in New York City; Pier 55 and a sculpture and public plaza with a "gathering" theme at the center of the Hudson Yards development.
Heatherwick was energetic, honest and at times laugh out loud funny in front of the crowd. He talked through a few of his projects from the initial stages to the end result and throughout the lecture his studios methodology and process were evident.
The studio’s process is like most design processes regardless of sector, iterative and full of investigation, testing, questioning and experimenting; full of dead ends and small victories. One differentiator is their use of non-traditional material form. A deep understanding of materials allows them to manipulate form into sophisticated designs beginning with early experiments in their workshop.
The results are beyond innovative.
- Steel the thickness of cooking foil was crinkled and sprayed with insulation foam on the back to act as an insulated cladding material.
- Stamped and billowed concrete forms in the design of the Nanyang Learning Hub.
- Aero-space windscreen technology used to create the undulating railing infill panels of the Longchamp store in NYC’s Soho neighborhood.
The studio seems to continuously explore materials and building techniques across industries and apply them to architecture and design. They are very connected to the making process, the craftsmanship behind every project is explored and celebrated.
No matter how large or small the project, the human perspective is always considered; what effect will the space have on people? How can it be better, a more positive experience?
As a designer, these are all things that ring very true for me. At Spacesmith the human perspective of every project is of utmost importance- otherwise what are we building spaces for?
Hearing others in the design realm speak about their practice enforces a collective reason for practicing design and architecture - to make a positive impact on human lives through design. And of course, to enjoy the creative process - dead ends and small victories.
Ambar Margarida, Associate, Interior Design