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Our team recently had the opportunity to view ‘Provocations’ at the Los Angeles Hammer Museum – an exhibit showcasing the work of the London-based architecture and design firm, Heatherwick Studio. It offers a wide glimpse into the studio’s collection of projects amassed over 20+ years of practice, providing context for their more iconic work while showcasing a consistency in design approach spanning the entire body of work.

The collection demonstrates Thomas Heatherwick’s ability to move across scales of design while maintaining the same inventive approach to every project. As the exhibit progresses, the type of projects grow from objects to architecture to civil. Concepts rooted in engineering and mechanics provide a foundation for designs that are not only aesthetically beautiful, but provide an enhanced level of functionality – objects that work better, more efficiently, more compactly, can shrink or expand, collapse or fold to accommodate size restrictions, function-changes or other program specific needs. It is apparent that each project is the product of thoughtful manipulation of materials, each with their inherent set of restrictions and desires, and by considering the tools and processes as a contributor to a project’s final expression.

Many of Heatherwick’s pieces reexamine the properties of everyday objects to derive new applications. Objects we interact with daily become part of our environment and we can easily miss their design potential because we no longer ‘see’ them.  Using small items like combs, zippers, pens, and toys he develops new ways of using or thinking about them, often combining them to make a larger and greater whole. Because the generative objects are familiar, the work demonstrates that design problems and their solutions are often right in front of us.

As architects and designers, the exhibition showed us that uncovering a solution can be as simple as looking at things in a different way and that pushing the limits can be done with the most ordinary of objects. ‘Provocations’ serves as a reminder to never stop observing the world around us with a fresh pair of eyes.

Read about the exhibit here: PROVOCATIONS

Jenn Shore