London Design Festival

  • Laura Chan
  • Wan Nur Bahiah W Zulkifli

Blogging for LDF.

Shifting between planes of thinking, the seemingly ever-sanguine designer aims to 'make special projects happen' and uses his knowledge of craft to inspire his work. The Spun Seats on which he and Dyckhoff sat, chairs that look like giant spinning tops (which could be used by the public at the Southabnk Centre during the LDF) and his hugely successful UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo this year, were two offered examples of the crossover between design fields.
Revelling in the in-between nature of pavilions (are they furniture or architecture?) Temporary or permanent?), the UK Pavilion was designed to embody the intermediary point between big and small, inside and outside. Although the site is large, the pavilion itself is small compared to the other designs, to give a feeling of openness. Heatherwick explained that he knew his studio would have to create a design that would be one of the best, as each pavilion is in effect a museum, and visitors only have time to see a select few.
What makes the UK Pavilion stand out is its architectural continuity. The soft, feather-like building corresponds to the surrounding cushioned ground and undulating landscape. Aware that content can often ruin buildings, Heatherwick Studio stayed clear of 'clichéd projections of interactivity', and decided that the building would be the content. The rods that make up the pavilion contain the displayed seeds, highlighting the building and content as one, a thought-provoking notion that brings to mind Berlin's Jewish Museum by Daniel Libeskind, initially praised by critics; only to be lambasted after the content was added.
Seeing Heatherwick's projects on screen as he spoke, I was reminded of my former architecture tutor calling Heatherwick's café in Littlehampton a 'turd on the beach'. Although not to everyone's architectural tastes, one cannot deny Heatherwick his impassioned way of speaking about design, the importance he gives to craftsmanship and process, of being driven by making and breaking cycles of thought through crossing borders between disciplines; to create fresh answers.
Deservedly the winner of this year's London Design Medal, Heatherwick appeals for his ability to 'unboredomerise the people', as Dyckhoff puts it, and this talk certainly proviked me to think more deeply about the dissolution of barriers between states, for the emergence of new ways of perceiving design.
Above photography: Susan Smart Photography
Below: British Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010 photo by darapo