A picture in the V&A magazine wowed me recently and made me want to see the Heatherwick Studio, Designing the Extraordinary Exhibition in the V&A. My fiancé and I managed to go yesterday on a jam packed day out in London. You can see the original picture and my attempt at scetching it in this sketchbook page from the end of June.

So I wanted to take this exhibition as my next research point. I was worried that an architects studio might not really work for the sort of inspiration I’d be looking for. I was completely wrong! 

There was a hiccup though… I knew photography would not be allowed so I happily started sketching my first chosen focus piece to be told off – sketching was not allowed! I was a bit flabbergasted by this but understood that it is probably because Heatherwick Studio is still a commercial venture and they probably didn’t want the intricate mechanisms of their creations copied. Of course anyone can go to the actual installations and sketch, photograph and copy from the source but thats by-the-by! I wished I could have properly sketched (and I saw several other people have to be told to stop sketching too), but I decided that I could still sketch various details from memory and also from referencing photos on the internet. If I ever have time I might also try to visit some of the creations in real life.

Here come the questions…
Is there a theme?
Yes. Heatherwick Studio, it’s creations and it’s methods.

Is it well displayed?
Yes, there was one large room with a lot crammed in but each item could be looked at from various angles. 

Is the lighting appropriate?
It was nice and bright – there were no delicate artworks or old items to protect so lighting was no issue.

Is there enough explanation of the exhibits?
Yes. Each item had a plaque with a pleasing amount of information and scattered about the room were more plaques with information about the studio itself. There were also video points which showed short clips which I really enjoyed.
Is it visually stimulating and interesting?
YES. Mainly because the exhibition let the designs of the studio be the inspiration. There was nothing else thrown in to distract you but the designs and concepts were enough.

The three exhibits I chose were ‘Gazebo’, ‘Bleigiessen’ and a cloud of welded discs bridge structure. The first two are actually realised but I think the last one was a studio experiment that hasn’t actually been built (though I may be wrong, I think it was designed for a private home).

To what extent to the pieces refer to tradition or another culture or a period of fashion?
I think despite their super-modern overall appearance each of the pieces do refer to tradition in some way. The attention to detail and the aim to create something that is made well is paramount. In the Gazebo advanced carpenty skills have been used to form the shelter. In Bleigiessen wooden forms are used to space the beads – in some ways its a huge 3d beaded curtain!
What qualities do you like or dislike about the pieces?
I like the overall sensuous and natural shapes in each exhibit. I love the attention to detail and the determination to make a quality constructed object of beauty and also of form. The only thing I could think of that I disliked is of the disc cloud bridge – I didn’t like the way the bridge walking surface was formed and I didn’t like that when you got close you could see all the joins and it wasn’t as smooth as it could be.
Here are the few sketches that I could make from memory…

Kim Debling is a Hampshire, UK based designer and Director of her own company Kestrel Design Ltd. She is mum to Rose and Harvey and wife to her best friend Steve.  She’s fighting off Stage 4 Lymphoma and sharing her story along the way, mainly via YouTube. Kim is passionate about being happy, mental wellbeing and in particular art and creative pursuits as therapy during tough times. She teaches online at Udemy, has published books and has art and printables available for sale.

Research Point – V&A Exhibition was last modified: April 30th, 2015 by Kim Debling