First U.S. exhibition of Thomas Heatherwick opens at Haunch of Venison in New York
NEW YORK, NY.- Haunch of Venison presents the first U.S. exhibition of Thomas Heatherwick, one of Britain’s most celebrated architect designers. The exhibition Extruding and Spinning will be open through March 3, 2012. Heatherwick’s designs engage in the spectrum of architecture, engineering and public art. He has worked on a diverse range of projects from buildings, bridges to handbags and furniture.
His British pavilion won the top prize for the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 and he was awarded three RIBA awards in 2010, including the prestigious Lubetkin Prize 2010 and has been selected to design the 2012 Olympic cauldron. Extruding and Spinning is an exhibition of Heatherwick’s first two high-end furniture projects; Extrusion, a series of extruded benches and chairs and Spun Coriolis, a series of spinning metal chairs for which he was awarded Design Medal at the London Design Festival 2010.
Highlights of the exhibition include four extruded, mirror polished, nickel plated, aluminium benches made without fixtures or fittings – the world’s first single component of metal furniture, extruded by machine. Heatherwick Studio commissioned a specially designed die through which a single billet of aluminium was ‘squeezed’ into a chair profile, complete with legs, seat and back. The aluminium emerges in a raw unpolished finish, which is then cut and sometimes shaped; each cut piece of bench then undergoes 300 hours of polishing.
The project, 18 years since conception, takes technology used in the aerospace industry to produce the world’s largest ever extruded piece of metal. The graceful aluminium pieces each have a unique, dramatic form that combines the back, seat and legs into one element. Until now, extrusion technology has been limited to smaller dimension profiles, and since graduating from the RCA in 1994, Heatherwick has been searching for a machine capable of producing a chair with legs, seat and back from a single component.
A second highlight of the exhibition is ‘Spun Coriolis ’ a functional chair formed from a single profile rotated through 360 degrees. The design transforms the domestic seat into a beautifully rendered spinning top. Each chair is assembled with six spinnings of thick metal, welded together and polished to give a uniform single form. The handmade spun pieces are created by pressing large sheets of metal against a rotating cast iron form using a large paddle.
The concept of this new design evolved from Heatherwick’s interest in the traditional manufacturing technique used for making large timpani drums in order to create a design using rotational symmetry while asking the question – could a functional chair be formed from a single profile rotated through 360 degrees? Spun Coriolis demonstrates Heatherwick’s interest in challenging traditional rules of design by transforming a static piece of sculpture into a playful piece of design.
When upright Spun Coriolis is a gleaming sculptural vessel and it is only when it is lent on its side that the playful possibilities of its form come to light; Spun Coriolis allows the sitter to swivel in a circular rocking motion, including being able to rotate in a complete circle. Spun Coriolis chairs are made in limited edition series in different finishes like stainless steel or copper, each series signed and dated, some are rippled and others smooth or with a patinated finish. Heatherwick will make no more than 35 chairs in total, one of which was recently acquired for MoMA’s permanent collection.
Thomas Heatherwick (b.1970) founded the Heatherwick Studio in London in 1994 after graduating from the RCA. Today, the practice operates from a combined studio and workshop in King’s Cross, London where a team of architects, designers and makers work on projects ranging from buildings and bridges to products and large scale works of art. The studio’s work includes La Maison Unique, the flagship store for luxury French brand, in New York Longchamp, multi-award winning East Beach Café, Littlehampton, and bridge, Paddington. A major exhibition of Thomas Heatherwick’s architecture and design will open at The Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 2012 and the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas will host a survey exhibition in the fall of 2014 before touring to other American museums and institutions.