I love some of the things that Thomas Heatherwick has achieved with his colleagues. They are truly beautiful and they introduce the minds of the people who experience them to new ways of understanding materials and physical processes. The model of practice that they operate is a partial template for Solaesthetic Research and Design. We are less purely form-oriented, Our work being tied to ecological principles and metaphors, and specialising in sustainable renewable energy.
What the Solaesthetic approach has in common is a highly observant relationship with materials and processes, which produces ideas from the behaviour of the stuff itself, they find design solutions in the “latent potential of materials and craftsmanship”. This approach depends on an extremely open minded curiosity about the what and how of things that are made. It’s not quite a scientific quality of mind. It is just as observant as a scientific attitude, but there is no determining hypothesis and no exclusion of chance discoveries or discoveries that emerge from the human interrelationship with objects and processes. This methodology is responsible for the quality that some of their output has of – stuff that is being seen for the first time.
I can only hope that we have the level of impact that Heatherwick Studios have so deservedly achieved.