The V&A is currently presenting an exhibition of the Heatherwick Studios, the team behind the design of the spectacular Olympic Caldron, which took the world by storm last night at the opening of the 2012 Olympics.
On 29 July, a smaller model of Thomas Heatherwick’s design for the Olympic Cauldron was added to the exhibition. The Olympic Cauldron was unveiled to the public for the first time at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics – during which it received the Olympic Flame – and this is the first chance for the public to see the design up close. Alongside this, there is a recorded interview with Danny Boyle, Thomas Heatherwick and exhibition curator Abraham Thomas, discussing the work. (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 31 May – 30 September 2012)
It is the first major solo exhibition exploring the work of one of the most inventive and experimental design studios practising in Britain today. The exhibition showcases the wide variety of projects conceived by British designer Thomas Heatherwick and his studio. On display are over 150 objects, from an original seed-tipped rod from the UK Pavilion Seed Cathedral at Shanghai World Expo (2010) to a full scale mock-up of the rear end of the new London double-decker bus (2012).
The exhibition examines two decades of projects, from examples of Thomas Heatherwick’s exploratory student work, through to the architectural commissions which have earned the studio their international reputation and their most current projects to date. The exhibition is part of the London 2012 Festival (21 June – 9 September 2012).
The collection of contextual photographs, maquettes, prototypes, material fragments and models on display offers an insight into the studio’s design processes and their curiosity for materials, engineering and fabrication. The objects are structured in a series of conceptual clusters illustrating the interrelation of ideas throughout the studio’s work, whilst giving a sense of walking through the Heatherwick workshop and archive. Each of the themed clusters are accompanied by film footage and audio clips of Thomas Heatherwick discussing the back-stories of the projects on show.
Martin Roth, Director of the V&A, said: “We are delighted to be showing the first solo exhibition of the work of Thomas Heatherwick and his studio. He is an extremely exciting and forward thinking contemporary designer whose work spans a fascinating breadth of disciplines. He is constantly challenging us with his ideas and pushing boundaries in art and design.”
The show is designed by Heatherwick Studio and spans the disciplines of architecture, engineering, transport and urban planning to furniture, sculpture and product design. Preparatory drawings, full-scale material fragments and maquettes for larger-scale architectural achievements such as the East Beach Café, Littlehampton (2007), the design for Longchamp fashion store, New York (2006) and the Teesside biomass-fuelled power station, UK (as yet unbuilt) are on display. These are shown alongside test models, photographs and complete pieces for smaller projects like the glass Bleigiessen installation for the Wellcome Trust (2005), the pedestrian Rolling Bridge in Paddington Basin, London (2004) and the aluminium Extrusions (2009).
Thomas Heatherwick studied 3D design in Manchester followed by an MA at the Royal College of Art in London and in 1994 he established his own studio which is now based in King’s Cross, London. Since the start of his career Heatherwick has worked with an extensive range of design disciplines and has shown a persistence of vision, with ideas and themes recurring in projects years on from their initial conception. His work reveals a fascination for texture, for what materials can do and how far boundaries can be pushed. His creativity and ingenuity have earned Heatherwick numerous design awards including the Prince Philip Designers Prize (2006), the London Design Medal (2010), the RIBA Lubetkin Prize (2010) for the UK Pavilion and in 2004 he became the youngest practitioner to be appointed a Royal Designer for Industry.
The V&A have also invited Heatherwick Studio to design a canopy over the front steps of the Museum as a way of signalling to the public the presence of the exhibition and welcoming visitors to the V&A during the British Design Season.
V&A 31 May – 30 September 2012 Visit Exhibition Here