Go see this: Thomas Heatherwick, Designing The Extraordinary

You wind your own gallery guide off a Heath Robinson type machine at the entrance to Thomas Heatherwick’s exhibition

If you are in the creative industry in any shape or form, drop everything and go see the amazing Thomas Heatherwick, Designing The Extraordinary exhibition at the V&A.  The man’s a genius. From the paper strip gallery guide you hand crank off at the entrance to the new London double decker bus design, the trip into Heatherwick’s mind and manner of working is a complete treat. His ideas seem based in a fascination with organic shapes and simple, clear but very bold construction stripped of fiddly bits. Everything he designs looks so obviously the very best and most innovative way to do something, you can’t imagine why no one thought to do it that way before.

My absolute favourite section concerns birthday and Christmas cards. Be careful not to miss the small video explaining how a very young Heatherwick (primary school age by the looks of the handwriting) made stonkingly clever birthday cards for his family. I would love to have known what Mr and Mrs Heatherwick said to each other when they got the first of these beautifully constructed cards. They must have been a bit taken aback,: when most kids were still learning to colour inside the lines he was cantilevering cardboard into 3D shapes Michelangelo would have been proud of.

For years the Heatherwick Studio produced ingeniously crafted Christmas cards that carried on this idea, coming up with unique designs that played with the concept of receiving and sending mail. Check out how the circular post office stamp turns into the ‘baubles’ on the stamp tree. All these photos are illegal by the way, since we weren’t supposed to take any in the show and covert is not conducive to quality. Apols’.

Christmas cards from the Heatherwick Studio

one of the Christmas cards from the Heatherwick Studio

wands containing seeds from the Seed Cathedral, Shanghai Expo

There is so much to see, from the seed packed perspex wands that studded the Seed Cathedral at the Shanghai Expo to the frankly amazing threaded glass balls in the Bleigiessen sculpture at the Wellcome Foundation. It’s an uplifting experience to see the great work done by Heatherwick and his studio, try and go if you can, or perhaps catch Heatherwick talking about the show here if you can’t make it. On at the V&A until the 30th September.


  • Anna says:

    Thanks for your illicit pics – I am definitely going to visit. x

  • Monix says:

    Wow! How did I miss this? Thank you so much for highlighting this show – “taxi”!


  • Sarah says:

    Isn’t he adorable in that Guardian video? It looks great. I was a bit disappointed by the main design retrospective exhibition and had meant to go back and see if I was just in the wrong mood for it, so this is a splendid reason to do so. The husband would enjoy it too.

  • Amanda says:

    It’s the sort of exhibition you need to read and listen at, there are some great videos explaining stuff, and his exploration into processes is really enlightening. Best go early, when there are no crowds, it was jolly busy when I went. A

  • Helen says:

    We are hoping to go later this week. Good to hear that you rate it so much.

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