TEXT BY 撰文 x JESC BUNYARD 傑西·本雅德 LI BOWEN 李博文
TRANSLATED BY 翻譯 x KE QIWEN 柯淇雯
IMAGES COURTESY OF 圖片 x HEATHERWICK STUDIO 赫斯維克工作室
Today, a major exhibition New British Inventors: Inside Heatherwick Studio was touring in mainland China supported by the British Council. The exhibition, curated by Kate Goodwin, Head of Architecture and the Drue Heinz Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, features projects and design process from 20 years of Heatherwick Studio, capturing the studio’s spirit of discovery, demonstrating their imaginative and entrepreneurial approach to design.
Heatherwick Studio was formed in 1994, since then the founder Thomas Heatherwick has emerged as one of Britain’s most gifted and imaginative designers. He was also granted many titles: Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects; Royal Academician by the Royal Academy of Arts; the youngest Royal Designer for Industry; Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the design industry and many more. Heatherwick and his team have established a unique design practice with a spirit of discovery and invention at its heart, and placing the Studio at the forefront of a wave of New British Inventors. Notable projects include the Olympic Cauldron for the 2012 Olympic Games, the award winning UK Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo 2010, and a reimagining of London’s famous red double-decker bus.
Neil Hubbard, senior project designer of Heatherwick Studio, joined in 2005. He witnessed the evolvement of the studio from the initial to the present strong team of over 160 architects, designers and makers work from a combined studio and workshop in the UK. On behalf of Heatherwick Studio, here Hubbard and Heatherwick will bring us into the Studio.
《新世代英倫創造：走進赫斯維克工作室（New British Inventors: Inside Heatherwick Studio）》是由英國文化協會呈獻的中國巡迴展覽。展覽由英國皇家藝術學會策展人凱特·古德溫（Kate Goodwin）策劃，回顧了赫斯維克工作室過去20年的項目作品和設計過程，旨在挖掘工作室的探索精神，展示他們富於想像力和創造力的獨特設計。
Essentials of Heatherwick Studio Design —
NH: People often ask: “what inspires your projects?” I would say, the project inspires the project. As soon as we get the brief, we would analyse it and find the one key thing that the client is trying to tell us. How can we boil this project down to one key element? How can we expose it and make the project all about that element? For example, the Teeside power station project, we would think: how do we make a piece of infrastructure, which you don’t want to hide away? How do you celebrate power generation? How do you integrate it with the ground that it’s part of and make it a landscape? Everything we do then is about trying to make that idea as strong as possible. All of our projects have this distillation: going through the brief and really understanding what is required, finding the key thing that makes that project special.
Process is also very important to us, as it can be applied to any scale of projects, whether it’s a building, a bus or even jewelry. After you have the idea, how do you go through the rigorous building process with engineers and consultants？How do you go through that horribly tiring process of trying to make something real, but still have that essence? We are the guardians of that idea.
TH: The key thing is about the element of human scale. The thing that fundamentally drives us is relationship to people. When we’re working on a master plan we are focusing in on the handrail, the doorknob and the people who use it. How does people use these spaces? In the vast master plan you work on, it’s the people that matters.
About the Exhibition —
NH: The interesting thing the show in China does is it starts to peel back the layers of our design process. Rather than just show this or that project, it actually looks at stages in our design process. The exhibition curator Kate Goodwin, who is the Head of Architecture and Drue Heinz Curator at Royal Academy of Arts, spent so much time with the studio. She really got under the skin of the studio, joining design reviews and seeing how things work. She picked out three major facets of our design process and chose to show projects, which showed that process. We have three stages: thinking, making and storytelling, and created three ‘islands’ for each topic.
‘Thinking’ was all about the idea: how do we change someone’s perception of a chair, a bus or a power station? ‘Making’ was about how we have been the contractors on our projects. How do we use our knowledge of making, casting, wielding and forming to influence our design process? That part of the show was formed of larger mock-ups, dioramas, and some flick books as well, so that you could understand stages of making along the way. The final section, ‘Storytelling’, was about how could you create that sense of awe? How do you tell a narrative? The show at one point was more linear, and meanwhile it became containing for people to explore.
TH: I feel very honoured to have a show about my studio’s work. The idea for this show came from an exhibition of my studio’s work Designing the Extraordinary held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The curator of that show had never worked with anyone who is still alive before. In my mind I feel the studio only just got going on what we want to do. We have been going for a number of years now, but it takes a long time to be trusted to do major projects and be considered a safe pair of hands, to build some of the most expensive things anyone can spend money on. Therein lies the problem: the people who are trusted are the people who have done things before, so you get a monopoly of outcome repeating itself. It is hard to be trusted when you are a young person just starting your studio. I feel fortunate that we’ve got-over being the young studio bit now, finally. It’s been an organic process of evolving what we do over the previous years. So in reality this for me feels like the beginning. To have a show now is not something I necessarily expected to have. It’s a moment where you can look back at what you do. I feel it’s true, I feel very exposed, quite naked, to have a show.
About China —
NH: One of the first things you realize is that you can’t go to any country, including China, is that you can’t expect them to do things how you would do it. What you actually have to do is to sit with the people who build things and understand their approach. Rather than constantly saying: “but we want it done this way!” You actually have to work with other cultures’ methods of doing things and understand things from a different perspective. Often we work with executive architects who know local building codes and we work with local artists in China, who help us with our projects and can make sure it’s correct in a cultural capacity. The main thing is the understanding. Especially in those early dialogues, of course you can build that here and ship it over, but maybe the result is better when you’re really engaging with the local area. So you don’t just feel like designing an alien in their landscape.
TH: It’s about my 25th trip to China this time. It was interesting meeting people that are not from main cities. One of the main issues is the scale of China, and I’ve become very interested in this: how to use this ambition and confidence to produce human scale, and still to make huge project happens. So I hope I will have the chance to work here for the rest of my life. I feel partly Chinese now. I felt there was a connection with a sensibility that I had not felt a lot in Europe.
Advice to Young Designers —
NH: Produce, produce, produce. This is something that my tutor told me. Keep making, even if you think it’s getting to a dead end. Keep making and reviewing. Review with your peers, even your grandmother, review with the person you don’t speak to that much. Sometimes in design you’re so close to something. You have to be so passionate about something to achieve it. You have to be an inch away, but you might be blinded to the real issue. It’s when you stand back and see it on the wall. We do this here to help ourselves out. The hardest thing is the ability to be so passionate about something but at the same time to be able to be objective. Really be honest with yourself, when it’s not working, try something else.
TH: I find that the people are too influenced by the magazines. I think the test for young designers is to make sure they are finding ideas. It’s easy to design, but the more important thing is why are you doing something. Can you stop drawing and tell me your idea? If you are not clear on your idea, you could get confused between designing and inventing. What is your invention? Is it aesthetic, or a combination of aesthetic and practicality? Have your own idea, and be aware of cliché. I find that people are doing versions of things they saw in magazines and don’t self-analyse enough. Most importantly, do things, and be excited by reality. I think that’s what it takes.
TH: 能在中國舉辦展覽我感到非常榮幸，工作室的上一個展覽是2012年倫敦維多利亞和阿爾伯特博物館（the Victoria and Albert Museum）的《設計非凡（Designing the Extraordinary）》。其實我感覺工作室才剛剛步上正軌。雖然從成立到現在已經有很多年了，但要建立起行業內的信任度很不容易，尤其是在一些大的項目上，投資方會慎重考慮設計團隊是否可靠。這也就導致了一個問題：投資方總是傾向於經驗豐富的團隊，肆意了行業內的壟斷現象。那麼初出茅廬的年輕設計師很難闖出一片天，我很慶幸自己終於度過了那段艱難的創業時期。過去這些年我們團隊所作的努力就像是一個有機的壯大過程。所以現在才是真正的開端。我之前沒有預料到自己會舉辦展覽，它更像是某個節點讓我可以回顧自己過去的工作。可以說這個展覽讓我也深入地了解了自己工作室。