Thomas Heatherwick set up up his own practice, Heatherwick Studio, at the age of 24 after studying 3D design at Manchester Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art. Several years later, he started attracting attention as one of Britain’s most significant designers. He now works with a team of about 180 architects, designers and makers from his London studio and workshop. Heatherwick’s many projects include the Olympic Cauldron, the New Routemaster bus, and the award-winning UK pavilion, Seed Cathedral, at the Shanghai Expo 2010, which incorporated 60,000 plant seeds.
“I’ve been going for 21 years, and for the first 15 I was very frustrated,” he told Designboom in 2015. “It takes a very long time to be trusted to do the kinds of projects that we’re working on today. Nobody just takes a 24 year old and says, ‘Why don’t you work on a 3 million square foot development’. You have to be very patient and very determined. I’ve been going for that time, but the Singapore learning hub was one of our first completed buildings with elevators and fire stairs. Did I want to do that 15 years ago and desperately want someone to commission us to do that? Yes, but you have to just keep going and that’s the challenge. It’s always hard doing things, there’s never an easy moment. I think it’s easy to project onto others that they’ve had some kind of luck.”
The studio covers a range of design disciplines, from architecture, engineering, transport and urban planning to furniture, sculpture and product design. This broad sweep of talents is Heatherwick’s reaction against compartmentalising thought. He prefers to regard his work as a single discipline: 3D design.
Thomas holds six honorary doctorates, and in 2004, he became the youngest practitioner to be appointed as a Royal Designer for Industry. In 2016, he was elected to be an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) at the Queen’s 2013 Birthday Honours for services to the design industry.Tags: architecture