Heatherwick Studio – Designing the Extraordinary 30.05.12

The Heatherwick Studio show at the V&A is the first UK retrospective covering the studio’s architectural, environmental and product design projects. There is a massive breadth of work, from hotels to newspaper stands, bridges, community centers, pavilions and artists studios to furniture, sculpture, carpet and fabric designs and the new Routemaster London bus. The studio fundamentally takes the design process in-house, from beginning to end, often creating detailed working models and inventing new processes and subverting or re-purposing existing manufacturing techniques. Where the necessary facilities don’t exist they have designed and built their own machines to realise designs. Eg. the crumpling machine that created the “foil” effect sheets covering a development of creative business units. Also a programme dispensing machine at the entrance to the show – a doner-kebab stack of printed paper rolls which visitors must hand crank and tear off to get their copy. There’s a great video of Thomas demonstrating his machine on the Dezeen blog here >

East Beach Cafe, 2007

Image © Andy Stagg
We’ve visited the cafe a few times so it’s interesting to see how it was built, and the solid expanding foam that was used to coat the interior, forming a smooth and softened version of the external form.

La Maison Unique, Longchamp Store, 2006.

Image © Adrian Wilson

Extrusions Seat, 2009

Image © Peter Mallett
A big lump of aluminium forced through an extrusion machine sourced in China.

New Bus for London, 2010

Rolling Bridge, 2004

Image © Steve Speller

Paperhouse, 2003 – 2009

Image © Cristobal Palma

Vents, Paternoster Square

UK Pavilion, Shanghai Expo 2010

Image © Iwan Baan

Creative Business Units, 2008

Image © Edmund Sumner

The studio invented a “crumpler” machine to distress the steel sheeting which clads the units. The steel sheets are given support by back filling with solid expanding foam.