Admitted students were treated to a journey inside the mind of a protean designer when Thomas Heatherwick spoke at the conclusion of Open House last Friday. In his introduction, Dean Mohsen Mostafavi called Heatherwick “one of the exciting people crossing boundaries between art, architecture, engineering. Not only is his work innovative for the different scales it represents; he gives us new ways to view daily items: from a bus to a master plan.”
Heatherwick’s studio of architects, landscape architects, theatre designers, sculptors and “makers” works collaboratively to reveal the apparent and latent meaning in their commissions through art, craft and materials. “The hardest point is the brief you set yourself; everything flows from that. Many of the projects we work on are driven by a dislike of ‘design.’” While many of Heatherwick’s project solutions are fanciful and conceptual—like the UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and the Rolling Bridge in Paddington, they are also intensely practical. By eschewing the creation of monuments, Heatherwick and his cohorts achieve something bold, unexpected and courageous.