Recently while in London to meet with fellow E3 Agency Base One I had the opportunity to visit an exhibition at the V & A of the works of the Heatherwicks Studio. If you happened to have witnessed the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London you would have some appreciation of the inspired creativity of the cauldron and the participative nature of its lighting. Heatherwick Studio were the brilliant minds behind this remarkable structure. They wished to create a cauldron that was not a static super structure and aloof from those participating. Instead on arriving in London, each of the 204 national teams competing in the Games received a special object, inscribed with the name of its country. Each slightly different from the other, these objects were sculpturally beautiful forms, made in polished copper.
Each team carried their precious object onto the field and laid their offering into a pattern resembling the petals of a flower, which was then given a long fine stem and over the course of a minute or two the 204 separate flames were lifted and merged together into one flame reflecting unity. It was a beautiful and meaningful design that also allowed for each team to take their individual object home at the end of the games.
The cauldron is but just one example of the creative genius of Heatherwick Studio that spans the disciplines of architecture, furniture, engineering, sculpture and urban planning. The fact that as a studio there is a view that they defy conventional classification, provides some insight into the unencumbered creative processes that they pursue. The V & A exhibition truly challenged my mindset in how limiting our own approach can be to designing visual language outcomes for brands. Certainly some of our processes reflect the less than bold expectations of some clients, but in the domain of brand design I do believe we could be working to a wider creative bandwidth when it comes to inspiration.
The Heatherwick Studio seeks its inspiration through deliberate experimentation with different materials. At its heart is a passionate engagement with materials research and fabrication techniques. Their design process is fuelled by an innate sense of curiosity and a desire to understand how far certain materials can be pushed and interrogated. Some projects take advantage of how materials can transform when subject to physical manipulation or chemical transformation.
Heatherwick Studio has delivered the world some stunning structures, and it has also provided creative agencies like ours the inspiration to push the boundaries on what is possible.