Listening to the TED talk by Thomas Heatherwick makes me wonder if I’ve been sleepwalking. I’ve been something of a divergent thinker since I was a child, with a mother who had her own opinions and encouraged us to express our own. So I like to think I’m reasonably creative, but when I see the work this architect and designer, I feel as if I’ve crawled into a parallel universe.
Suddenly public spaces aren’t just boring rectangles. I can walk along a Paddington bridge that rolls itself into a circle. If I visit Malaysia some day, I might be able to walk in a rain forest under a row of apartment blocks that curve upward from small bases. If I’m hungry, I can step into the wild, rusty curves of the East Beach Cafe in Littlehampton, West Sussex.
In this universe, textures are not just hard and unfriendly. They’re tipped with light, like the Seed Cathedral. They invite me to run my hand over them, rub up against them, roll down the slopes they cover.
Some of Heatherwick’s unique designs make me laugh or shake my head, like the chairs designed like spinning tops or his extruded aluminum furniture. But what delights me is that Heatherwick isn’t bound by the boxes that define so much of the spaces where we live and work.
He wakes up my sense of what’s possible, and that gives me hope.