Since founding the Heatherwick Studio in 1994, Thomas Heatherwick has garnered international recognition as one of the most influential and innovative designers today. Heatherwick’s works span a wide range of disciplines—from architecture, furniture, fashion, and product design to engineering, transportation design, and urban planning—and are executed on a variety of scales. Born in London in 1970, Heatherwick was introduced to design at an early age by both of his parents. His mother, a bead collector, helped Heatherwick to develop his aesthetic while his father introduced him to architecture and design. As a child, Heatherwick frequently worked on inventions, anything from mechanical birthday cards to go-karts. He went on to study 3-D design at Manchester Polytechnic, where he received a degree in 1991, followed by study in a two year Furniture MA program at the Royal Academy of Art, receiving a degree in 1994. Upon graduating, he established the Thomas Heatherwick Studio (now the Heatherwick Studio) where over the last 18 years, he and a group of fellow designers, architects, and engineers have worked on nearly 200 projects. Heatherwick has won various honors and awards, including honorary doctorates from four universities: Sheffield Hallam, Brighton, Dundee, and Manchester Metropolitan University. Heatherwick is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and is a Senior Fellow at the Royal College of Art. Additionally, he is the youngest practitioner to be appointed a Royal Designer for Industry. His works have been exhibited in England and internationally, and in 2012 the Victoria And Albert Museum hosted a retrospective of the works of Heatherwick Studio called, “Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary.”
Response to COMMUNITY
Amazing things happen when people meet and share – cities are themselves a manifestation of this. As a design studio, Heatherwick Studio is interested in public space and making the world better for everyone.
This last year the global pandemic has brought a renewed focus on the positive impact public spaces can have on our health and wellness, as well as in encouraging a sense of togetherness and community. But even before that, there was already a realisation that we are becoming less reliant on physical interactions to consume products and access knowledge. Yet despite our increasing connection to each other through the online sharing of ideas, opinions, information and products, urban populations are leading an increasingly internalised life.
So how can cities and towns respond to this modern problem? What does it take to create meaningful spaces that inspire people to leave the digital realm and directly engage with others in real life? Too often a good idea can turn into a cliché.
The challenge is for us – the designers, artists, architects and city planners – to start making an impact again by making meaningful and engaging places that people want to spend time in. We are on the threshold of new digital intelligence and this threatens the role of architects with obsolescence unless they start mattering again by challenging themselves to be more courageous by making original places that connect with a diverse public. It’s exciting to see what transformation can be brought to the streetscape with the Storefronts Exhibition.
Image – London Olympia
• Situated in an important but neglected piece of historic London, the studio is transforming Olympia – a 150-year old exhibition, event space and conference centre – into a revitalised place that also creates over two acres of new publicly-accessible space for visitors and the local community to enjoy.