Thomas Heatherwick founded Heatherwick Studio in 1994 to make unique design projects happen. His team of architects, designers, and makers works out of a combined studio and workshop in the King’s Cross neighborhood of London. The studio’s output ranges from product design to bridges and buildings to large-scale public art.
Heatherwick was born in London in 1970. His creativity was encouraged by his mother, a collector and dealer in beads, and his father, who introduced him to architecture and design. He studied 3D design at Manchester Polytechnic, graduating in 1991, then completed a degree at the Royal Academy of Art.
An indication of the range of Heatherwick’s work is his three categories for projects: small, medium, and large. The Spun Chair for Magis is among the “small.” Spun, a combined sculpture and seat that spins 360 degrees, came out of research into the geometric simplification of a familiar object, combined with experimentation into materials and processes.
That same spirit is evident in Seed Cathedral, designed for the UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010. Sixty thousand fiber-optic rods protrude from a steel and timber composite structure in a pin-cushion effect. During the day, the rods draw daylight inward to illuminate the interior. At night, light sources inside each rod allow the whole form to glow. As wind moves through it, the structure and its optic “hairs” gently move, to dynamic effect.
Work such as Spun and Seed Cathedral have resulted in numerous awards for Heatherwick Studio. In addition, Heatherwick is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a Senior Fellow at the Royal College of Art. He is also the youngest practitioner to be appointed a Royal Designer for Industry.