Over the past 20 years, Thomas Heatherwick has produced a stream of innovative designs on an ever-larger scale, culminating in the spiky marvel of the British Pavilion for the 2010 Shanghai Expo. In this massive survey of 140 works, past, present and to come, Heatherwick explores the ideas that inform every project, and the ways they were realized. Brief texts accompany abundant illustrations in this personal exploration of a prolific career. In an exhibition that is on display at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum through September 30, the creative process is brought to life though animation, and it’s easy to imagine an e-book that would do the same.
Heatherwick’s range is dazzling, from chairs and temporary installations to roll-up bridges and a power station that morphs into a green mountain. Electricity pylons that disfigure the landscape are transformed into gauzy skeins. A beachfront café evokes the rolling surf in undulating shells of welded steel, and an outdoor pool is canopied with a cats-cradle of wood spars resembling those that wash up on the shore. An unrealized design for the Olympic Velodrome captures the dynamic energy of cycle racing to a far greater degree than Michael Hopkins’ iteration. Heatherwick has even redesigned the double-decker London bus, and the gleaming prototypes are drawing admiring glances as they ply route 38 from Victoria to Hackney. As you close this book you wonder if there’s anything he cannot do. Even Leonardo would have been impressed by the fertility of his invention.
Thomas Heatherwick: Making
The Monacelli Press, $75