HEATHERWICK DESIGNS EVERYTHING
Harvey Nichols store, Knightsbridge, London, by Heatherwick Studio (photo by Steve Speller)
Architecture companies that do more than architecture impress me.
I don’t mean the firms that provide additional services like interior design, landscape design, master planning, and/or graphic design. If you are a Design (with a capital “D”) driven company, than your field of Architecture (with a capital “A”) should inherently include such endeavors.
The recent passing of Michael Graves brings to mind how inspiring it is when an architect evolves and branches out, elevating his talent beyond the category of “building design,” which sometimes sounds like creating a mundane parking structure or coordinating an air conditioning system. Mr. Graves launched a Post-Modern movement of designing for all functions, for all people, at all scales. (Teapot, anyone?) This concept of what I like to call “comprehensive design services” are also offered from contemporaries like Rios Clementi Hale Studios or historical legends like Frank Lloyd Wright.
At Poon Design, we provide design services of all types. In our past, we even offered the unique specialty of music programming for restaurant or retail projects. We posited a simple concept that music was as essential to the success of a branded space and its customer experience, as the right spatial forms, appropriately selected materials, and strategic lighting design. All of it, music as well, comprised Architecture.
Then there is Heatherwick Studio, www.heatherwick.com.
Heatherwick Studio has taken the idea of complete design services to a new level. Heatherwick has embraced broad design and research wholeheartedly, as evidenced by the studio’s current exhibition called “Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio” at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
Upon arrival to the museum, you encounter the famous Spun Chairs in the courtyard. Irresistible to all—children, teens, adults and seniors—you will see dozens of people gleefully spinning like giant-size tops on these chairs, design courtesy of Heatherwick.
With large public and private architectural projects, both executed or proposed—from the new Google Campus in Northern California, to a university building in Singapore, to a Capetown museum—Heatherwick also designs at other, more curious scales. From smallest to biggest, its portfolio boasts a Longchamp handbag, an extruded aluminum bench, the Olympic cauldron, newspaper kiosks, a London red bus, a portable bridge, and a grand park in the middle of an Abu Dhabi desert.
Heatherwick’s “Seed Cathedral,” the U.K pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, drew worldwide attention. Measuring approximately 50’ x 50’ x 50’, the pavilion is make up of 60,000 protruding clear acrylic rods, the tips of which encapsulate 250,000 seeds. Magical and mesmerizing, the design stunned architects and non-architects alike.
I am eager to see the breadth of Heatherwick’s design work, particularly the larger projects, executed in real life. Of their dozen featured grand architecture works, less than half are implemented. We have a lot to look forward to from Heatherwick in the coming decades.
Don’t miss the exhibit. Admission is free (as is playing on the ping pong tables in the courtyard). Exhibit closes May 24, 2015. Provocations at the Hammer Museum.