Tokyo's Mori Art Museum is highlighting the work of acclaimed design firm Heatherwick Studio. The award-winning studio was founded by British designer Thomas Heatherwick in 1994, and this is its first solo exhibition. Twenty-eight of Heatherwick's best designs are highlighted in a comprehensive look at its evolution. By focusing on the entire creative process, the exhibit gives visitors a unique look at how the team produces incredible designs that honor its values.
Even the title of the exhibit, Heatherwick Studio: Building Soulfulness, is a tribute to those values. As a child, Thomas Heatherwick recalls being moved by the “soulfulness” of the small items he saw artists and artisans build. He wondered if large-scale design could retain that feeling. This desire to keep a human connection, as well as incorporate nature, are touchstones of Heatherwick Studio's work.
Museum director Mami Kataoka, who also served as the exhibition curator, was keen to take on the challenge of showcasing grand architecture within the confines of a gallery. To do so, she created an immersive experience where visitors can engage with models, photography, videos, and objects. Walking through six sections, people will learn about Heatherwick Studio's design process and how the same philosophy is applied to everything from a car that cleans the air while it drives to a floating public park.
“Over the last three decades, my team and I have been passionately trying to create impactful, relatable projects that make our lives more meaningful and joyful,” shared Thomas Heatherwick. “It's now thrilling to be able to showcase such a vast collection of our work in Japan, where respect for design thinking and craftsmanship is unrivaled. I hope visitors will leave the show feeling like their emotions have not just been respected, but were an essential part of our thinking and fascination!”
Some of the iconic projects featured include 2019's Vessel at Hudson Yards as well as the 2017 transformation of grain silos in Cape Town into the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. There is also a focus on new work, such as New York's Little Island, a raised public park that opened in 2021. Tokyo's Azabudai Hills, a neighborhood development still under construction, is also featured.
Heatherwick Studio: Building Soulfulness is on view at Tokyo's Mori Art Museum until June 4, 2023.