Thomas Heatherwick CBE HonFREng
Founder, Heatherwick Studio
Thomas Heatherwick is a globally recognised British designer, best known for his use of engineering and materials in architecture, public art and sculpture. His most recent works have included: the design of the ‘Hive’, a new learning hub at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; the design of an all-glass pavilion at the Bombay Sapphire Distillery; design and construction of the London 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics cauldron; the design of the Routemaster-inspired New Bus for London; the refurbishment of Pacific Place, Hong Kong; and the UK Pavilion for Shanghai Expo 2010, a giant six-storey cube-like structure pierced by 60,000 illuminated transparent rods, which was awarded the accolade of best pavilion.
Having trained as a product designer, Thomas is able to adapt his thinking from the design of furniture to major pieces of urban infrastructure. At all scales, his deeply original designs are based on the properties of materials, the techniques of craft, and the way things are made or manufactured. Thomas’s unique approach to designing from first principles has made him the most sought-after designer of our age. He was named as the sixth most influential Londoner by the Evening Standard in 2015.
He was born in London, educated at Sevenoaks School, and studied 3D design at Manchester Polytechnic and furniture design at the Royal College of Art. In 1994, he founded Heatherwick Studio, with the aim “to bring architecture, design and sculpture together within a single practice”. The studio now houses a team of over 60 people, which includes architects, landscape architects, designers and engineers. Work is carried out from a combined studio and workshop where concept development, detailing, prototyping and small-scale fabrication take place. The studio’s work spans commercial and residential building projects, master-planning and infrastructure schemes, as well as high profile works of public art.
Heatherwick Studio is currently working on: the adaptation of corn silos into a new art gallery in Cape Town; a new retail precinct at Kings Cross, formed from the historic Coal Drops Yard; an enormous mixed-use development at Moganshan, Shanghai; a new waterfront park at Pier 55 in New York; and the Garden Bridge in London. It has also recently been awarded commissions to design new offices for Google in Mountain View, California, and in London, as well as a new Concert Hall at the Lincoln Centre in New York.
Thomas Heatherwick is a Senior Fellow and external examiner at the Royal College of Art, a Senior Research Fellow at the Victoria & Albert Museum and a Fellow of the Royal Academy. He has served on numerous judging and advisory panels, and has given talks at various institutions including the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Bartlett School of Architecture, the South Africa Design Indaba conference, the Royal Academy and TED2011. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from four British universities – Sheffield Hallam, Brighton, Dundee and Manchester Metropolitan – and won the Prince Philip Designers Prize in 2006. In 2004, he was the youngest practitioner ever to be appointed a Royal Designer for Industry, aged 34. In 2010, Thomas was awarded RIBA’s Lubetkin Prize and the London Design Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to design.
In 2013, Thomas was awarded a CBE for his services to the design industry.