Heatherwick Studio: Provocations

20 Feb — 24 May 2015 at Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, United States

Heatherwick Studio, East Beach Café, Littlehampton, UK, 2005–2007. Photo: Andy Stagg
Heatherwick Studio, East Beach Café, Littlehampton, UK, 2005–2007. Photo: Andy Stagg
6 MAR 2015

This February, the Hammer Museum will present the West Coast debut of Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio, featuring the imaginative work of British designer Thomas Heatherwick and his London-based studio. Heatherwick is known for his unique design concepts ranging from products, such as a handbag for Longchamp, to large-scale structures like the new distillery for Bombay Sapphire Gin.

On view at the Hammer from February 20 to May 24, 2015, Provocations will feature a selection of Heatherwick Studio’s projects through the display of prototypes, large-scale models, objects, photographs, and film and video footage.

“Provocations is an extraordinary exhibition that brings the talent and versatility of Heatherwick Studio to the audiences of Los Angeles,” remarks Hammer director Ann Philbin. “This exhibition will be an eye- opener for many visitors at the Hammer who are able to take a close look at the British designer’s creative process and remarkable products and buildings.”

Heatherwick Studio, established in 1994, is recognized for its highly inventive approach to everyday design challenges, frequently combining novel engineering with new materials and innovative technology to create unusual, often sculptural, building forms. The project that first garnered Heatherwick international recognition was the Rolling Bridge which crosses London’s Grand Union Canal near Paddington Station. Asked to design a bridge to span the small channel through which boats pass, Heatherwick acknowledged that most drawbridges are unattractive when raised. His solution was to create an eight-part section of the bridge using hydraulic pistons that eliminated the need for visible cables and piers. The bridge’s unique motion, which rolls up into a circular snail-like form, continues to attract crowds and won the 2005 British Structural Steel Award.

Thomas Heatherwick, born in 1970, has received international acclaim in the design and architecture community resulting in numerous accolades for his innovative work. Named an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, RIBA, Heatherwick has been awarded the Prince Philip Designers Prize, was appointed a Royal Designer for Industry and received the RIBA’s Lubetkin Prize, the London Design Medal, and a CBE for his contribution to the design industry.

"I've followed Thomas Heatherwick's work since 2003 and I believe he is one of the most brilliant designers of our time. In fact, I share the opinion expressed by his mentor, fellow British designer Sir Terence Conran, who has called him ‘the Leonardo da Vinci of our times’ for his complex ideas and keen sense of construction,” said exhibition curator Brooke Hodge. “I am thrilled that the Hammer has the opportunity to present Heatherwick’s ideas and designs to Los Angeles through this unique exhibition.”

This exhibition examines the astonishing range of Heatherwick Studio’s practice by focusing on the design concepts behind early creations such as the rotation-molded “Spun” chairs as well as current large public and private architectural work in the U.K., South Africa, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, and China. Included will be such projects as the U.K. Pavilion— known as the Seed Cathedral—at the 2010 World Expo; a Learning Hub for Nanyang Technological University; and a contemporary art museum created within a grain silo.

Among Heatherwick Studio’s latest high-visibility designs that will be on view as part of the Hammer installation are the 2012 redesign of London’s double decker buses, known as the New Routemaster, and the cauldron for the internationally televised ceremonial lighting of the London 2012 Olympic Games torch.

Organized by the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Provocations is curated by Brooke Hodge, deputy director of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. The Hammer’s presentation is overseen by curator Aram Moshayedi.

The Hammer Museum's presentation is made possible in partnership with Burberry. Additional support is provided by The Brotman Foundation of California, Lewis Baskerville, Ronnie Sassoon, and Helen and Sam Zell. Media sponsorship is provided by KCRW 89.9FM. Special thanks to Herman Miller and Bombay Sapphire Gin.

Provocations is currently on view at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas through January 4 and travels to the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York after the Hammer from June 21 to October 25, 2015.