On visiting the V&A in London recently I happened upon an extraordinary exhibition titled ‘Heatherwick Studio – Designing the Extraordinary’. Funny that. At first glance it seems you’re looking at a room full of stuff. Too much stuff. Then a journey begins with the first cabinet. And what a journey! And it ends too soon!
Well who are these people at Heatherwick Studio? To quote their site “Heatherwick studio has earned an international reputation for creating stunning and ingenious works that span a breathtaking array of disciplines: from architecture, furniture, product design and fashion, to engineering, sculpture, transport and urban planning.” Difficult to better that description, as I was blown away with their work. I had spotted some of their designs previously but not had the chance of getting the full scope of their work. And it is pretty much crammed into this small space. But each model and prototype [the show is made up of them as opposed to the finished items] reveals the shear brilliance of their thinking and approach to design. Unfortunately taking photos was not allowed, which was a pity because the models and prototypes demonstrate this process so well.
To begin with they are a multi-disciplinary group, hell-bent on breaking every design typology in existence. And the secret is in their exploratory process, interrogation of materials and passion for craftsmanship. “At the heart of his Studio’s practice is a profound commitment to elegant, integrated design solutions and the absolute dedication to materials, research, prototyping, industrial collaboration, tactility, texture – and above all, extraordinary form-making.”I had a spin in one and loved it… nearly fell out though.
A bridge that works both as intended as a crossing which can be removed to allow boats to pass through, as well as a cool sculptural piece.
And who would dare to redesign one of London’s greatest icons of design… the London Bus? Not only have they answered the brief but they have surpassed previous designs without throwing out the proverbial baby. Even the stunningly mod seat fabric was designed by them.
The UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. This ‘Seed Cathedral’ was designed in response to the theme of “better city, better life”. “We started to explore the relationships between cities and nature and the significance of plants to human health, economic success and social change.” It was decided to use texture, like the waving grass in a field, to create the form. There would be no sense of where the structure begins or ends. “The Seed Cathedral is a box, 15 metres high and 10 metres tall. From every surface protrude silvery hairs, consisting of 60,000 identical rods of clear acrylic, 7.5 metres long, which extend through the walls of the box and lift it into the air. There are 250,000 seeds cast into the glassy tips of all the hairs.”
East Beach Cafe, Littlehampton. Nothing like the traditional English seaside cafes, often has queues outside waiting to get in. Withe Heatherwick’s approach to design, we’re not surprised!
For these and many more amazing design wonders visist the Heatherwick Studio Website.
Nearly every child in New Zealand grows up listening to the stories of Maori legends. It might be said that the stories of Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga are some of the most popular. In some of the stories Maui is cheeky, curious, and his inquisitive nature means that he goes on really awesome and dangerous adventures. When he’s old enough Maui starts to question his origins and begins to figure out his own identity. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the legends of Maui continue to influence our lives; like Maui, we are discovering what we find unique about ourselves, what we can create that expresses our own individual New Zealand identity.
David Hakaraia amalgamates his Maori heritage with contemporary designs and practises. The result is a fascinating synthesis: Hakaraia creates works that have a “design approach that is distinctly his own”, they are a combination of Maori storytelling and modern techniques through the use of a variety of media. David is of Ngapuhi and Ngati Paoa descent and grew up in Tokoroa and Kororareka. He graduated with a Masters of Design with Distinction at Victoria University School of Architecture and Design in 2011. David’s aim is ”to develop new ways to express my history by marrying contemporary design technologies with the tradition of Maori story-telling. My hope is that this historically and culturally grounded approach will offer new ways with which contemporary Maori may connect with their history”.
David’s works are obviously reminiscent of his Maori heritage, as seen in his Waka Whakaka, which also combines pacific and western cultures. Intricate koru designs are magnificently laser-etched on a wooden elliptical shape. When switched on, light streams through the cuts, making the patterns on the Waka Whakaka glow.
David’s other light, Mahuika, is directly influenced by Maori legend: it is based on one of the stories of Maui, when he goes to the underworld to get fire from the old kuia, Mahuika. The light is made of porcelain and native timber. Mahuika looks like a multi-coloured flame, and is both bright and delicate at the same time. And pretty soon David is going to become a cleverbastard (which we are very excited about). We are looking forward to having a new and extremely innovative designer join our team. Story by Jane Yonge
After meeting David several years ago he mentioned his ideal work space would be designed and built to fit his unique requirements and values. A space that would not only foster great innovation in design, but would incorporate the factory as well as a showroom to showcase his new work and projects. Other important values like sustainability, good working environment for his staff and accessibility to his customers and the ‘real world’ out there would be important. Well it’s all become reality. It’s located near the old industrial site where he used to be based, but is now alongside a very Kiwi neighbourhood. Connecting with and being a part of the community is all part of running his business in the Hawke’s Bay area and also one of the reasons he and his partner, Linda, live there.
I love the way the building, while mostly industrial, welcomes you in. The entrance is informal and friendly, full of light, and provides a lovely space to show David’s range of lights, furniture, special projects and prototypes, as well as his art prints and photography on the walls. David showed me around the design area as well as the work-friendly workshop. Underfloor heating, excellent light, clean air and a number of sustainable innovations make this a space worth working in. We look forward to seeing new work pouring out from this nest of kiwi creativity. Next time you’re down there pop in yourself… it will be well worth it.
David is no newbie to the Milan Design week scene…. and this time he is showcasing his new lighting designs housed in what he calls his DREAM SPACE DOME – “an internal break-out space for quiet contemplation”. Here we see his methods for design being translated into an architectural pavillion, using minimal material – 5mm thick plantation pine with organic looking aluminium joints fastened with rivets; the seemingly complex structure not only sits inside a suitcase, but is easily assembled on site. I can’t wait to see some photos of it in action!!
“Why fill a truck with one tree, when the cost to the Earth is reduced by packing in boxes of seed?” I LOVE THIS! Not only does the kitset idea reduce the environmental footprint and reduce the volume of freight (thus cost), but it is FUN TO MAKE or “grow”… oh and it looks beautiful.
I love the inspiration from the beauty of nature, and the Coral lights take their inspiration from exactly that which they are named…coral. David says: “I love to snorkel over reefs exploring the amazing detail and structure of all the various corals. Our kitsets significantly reduce freighting, which is one of our ways of doing what we can to help preserve our beautiful sea and land environments.”
We are very excited to see them off, once again, to Milan to show off their new works at the Salone Satellite Design Week. ”We decided that rather than sending big crates from New Zealand to the other side of the world, we would design the work to fit in our suitcases.” A design challenge which has produced some very nice designs using minimal (and recycled) materials! See their very cool video here showing their process of packing their designs… Video of DesignTree off to Milan Design Week
Using recycled materials in clever ways, these new designs don’t just look cool, but tell an inspiring story…
The Nectar hanging lamp is made out of 100% polyster and takes its inspiration from nature, and yes you guessed it from the very clever bees. Beautifully configured, these lamps come flat packed minimising waste and utilises the beehive structure to create something light yet structurally strong. Any left-over material is also then taken back to the manufacturer and recycled to make new material.
Here the Base hanging lamp shade turns “waste” into a thing of beauty. Utilising industrial plastic off-cuts, or old signage with a steel base that uses minimal material. I especially love the pink lamp, with the snippet of type reading ”a tradition of innovation”, I like them in a cluster too which speaks of their stories (or past-lives).
A similar concept, the Ledge lamp “shines a light” on problematic waste material. It reinvigorates old signage and scrap materials, thus each being entirely unique, with its own markings, scratches, and tidbits of colour…contrasting with the sleek (modern) aluminium frame. I love how it can also be used as a display shelf, very clever.
Similar again, the Salvage stool is made up of a 100% aluminium seat, which clamps the wooden legs found from local building recyclers, wood turners and junk shops. Using only 3 bolts, which can be put together easily with the allen-key provided, the stool comes in various options and sizes to suit – I love the value and appreciation given to old discarded materials, a very clever and functional design.
Just lovin this work on used, pre-loved snow boards… what a beautiful and functional medium. The way the grain is allowed to come through with the minimal additions in white silhouettes. Upcycling is just booming around the world. And with good reason. We’ve got into such a mad, vicious, addictive cylcle of buy, consume, chuck. Often objects made with beautiful and valuable materials – I had no idea how a snow board was made prior to this awakening – are given the heave. And so Nathan Seccombe brings new life to these boards in an unexpected way… once carving up the mountain snow, now carving up the space on a wall or floor. Cool. My fave are the two clocks… yours?
Oh, and nice photos too. It’s always a pleasure to see great design represented so well… must be the old ad art director coming out in me.
My Welly trip was so fruitful I’ve a few more blogs on clever people I met down there. Jennifer McIver of Wishbone Bikes and I met at their HQ in Newtown. Sadly, partner and designer Richard was away on business. A planned one hour meet ran into two as we found so much to talk about. Most of it on shared values that encapsulate their brand and ours, CleverBastards. Their story of taking their prototype product to market, via success at the German Kids Toys Awards and further success in Milan, is a wish come true. But it didn’t come easily… they’ve sweated the hard yards on getting their product right and produced right and at a price that is already meeting the market. World-wide. And all in an incredibly short time.
“The joy of transformation” sums up the genius of the Wishbone Bike. It grows as your kid grows… from year one it has three wheels, then the two wheels become one, and then at 4 or 5 years the wishbone frame is flipped giving it added height. Clever Hey? But that’s not all. It comes with true sustainable creds… kiln-dried, preservative-free plantation birch or ash, organic cotton and recycled packaging. They didn’t want to just produce more. “That’s why we challenged ourselves to create designs that transform your experience, reduce overall consumption, deliver a positive environmental outcome, and bring people closer together.” So you think that’s cool? Check these out….
Designs commissioned by Kiwi artists Neil Whittington with his endangered Giant Koru Snail and our very own Clever Bastard, Shane Hansen celebrate the importance of biodiversity. His Koru design “tells a story of flowing rivers and high mountains. It symbolises new life and relationships, calling on families globally to celebrate diversity, build community and work together for a bright future.” Now that’s a Kiwi wish worth wishing for.