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Exhibit Honors Thomas Heatherwick, The Mad Scientist Of British Design

The studio of Thomas Heatherwick, a master of materials and the "Pinhead pavilion," is set to get its very own retrospective at the V&A in London.

  • <p>Heatherwick  stole the show at last year’s World Expo in Shanghai with this striking pavilion, which was variously compared to a Koosh ball and that scary dude from Hellraiser. Called the Seed Cathedral, it was constructed from 60,000 transparent 24-foot-long optical strands.</p>
  • <p>Material experiments are his bailiwick. A sculpture for the atrium of the Wellcome Trust’s headquarters in  London, Bleigiessen uses suspended glass spheres to capture what molten metal looks like when it’s poured into water.</p>
  • <p>Here, Thomas Heatherwick Studio drew on a complex aluminum-extrusion process to build a chair out of a single component. (Most chairs are made up of several parts and require additional fittings and hardware.)</p>
  • <p>In January 2010, Heatherwick Studio won a coveted commission to revamp London’s famed red double-decker bus. The design encourages speedier boarding: With a rear open platform, passengers can hop on and hop off in a jiffy.</p>
  • <p>This whimsical pedestrian bridge in London uses a series of hydraulic rams integrated into its balustrade to roll up into a little ball midday every Friday. It’s lots of fun to watch (as long as you’re not watching from the bridge itself).</p>
  • <p>Heatherwick’s plan for a 49-megawatt, biomass-fueled power station in the UK would involve stashing energy-generation equipment in a single "parabolic hyperboloid form," leaving 4 hectares of indigenous grasslands.</p>
  • 01 /06
    | UK Pavilion, 2010

    Heatherwick stole the show at last year’s World Expo in Shanghai with this striking pavilion, which was variously compared to a Koosh ball and that scary dude from Hellraiser. Called the Seed Cathedral, it was constructed from 60,000 transparent 24-foot-long optical strands.

  • 02 /06
    | Bleigiessen, 2005

    Material experiments are his bailiwick. A sculpture for the atrium of the Wellcome Trust’s headquarters in London, Bleigiessen uses suspended glass spheres to capture what molten metal looks like when it’s poured into water.

  • 03 /06
    | Extrusions, 2009

    Here, Thomas Heatherwick Studio drew on a complex aluminum-extrusion process to build a chair out of a single component. (Most chairs are made up of several parts and require additional fittings and hardware.)

  • 04 /06
    | New Bus For London, 2010

    In January 2010, Heatherwick Studio won a coveted commission to revamp London’s famed red double-decker bus. The design encourages speedier boarding: With a rear open platform, passengers can hop on and hop off in a jiffy.

  • 05 /06
    | Rolling Bridge, 2004

    This whimsical pedestrian bridge in London uses a series of hydraulic rams integrated into its balustrade to roll up into a little ball midday every Friday. It’s lots of fun to watch (as long as you’re not watching from the bridge itself).

  • 06 /06
    | Teesside Power Station, ongoing

    Heatherwick’s plan for a 49-megawatt, biomass-fueled power station in the UK would involve stashing energy-generation equipment in a single "parabolic hyperboloid form," leaving 4 hectares of indigenous grasslands.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is set to open a retrospective on the studio of Thomas Heatherwick, one of the most exciting British designers alive today.

Heatherwick has made a name for himself manipulating materials in all sorts of strange, seductive ways. He’s built everything from tin-foil huts to a half-brilliant-half-terrifying Pinhead-shaped pavilion to a bridge that curls up like an extra-slow slap bracelet.

Now, for the first time, we’ll get to see all his wild ideas together in one place—plus learn how the studio actually executes this stuff. (Seriously, how do you fabricate a giant Pinhead? We’re dying to know.) Unfortunately, Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary doesn’t open until May. So here’s a little preview to whet your appetite.

[Images courtesy of the V&A]