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New British Inventors Season: Heatherwick exhibition tours to China

New British Inventors: Inside Heatherwick Studio exhibition opens at the CAFA Art Museum in Beijing, as part of the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange.

Thomas Heatherwick leads a tour of the New British Inventors: Inside Heatherwick Studio exhibition in Beijing as part of the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange. (© British Council)
Thomas Heatherwick leads a tour of the New British Inventors: Inside Heatherwick Studio exhibition in Beijing as part of the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange. (© British Council)

World-renowned designer and creator of the iconic UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, Thomas Heatherwick, is the focus of a new exhibition that has come to China as part of the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange.

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills said:

Thomas Heatherwick’s iconic designs are world famous; whether it be his beautiful Olympic cauldron, or his modern take on the iconic red London bus.

I’m delighted that thanks to this exhibition people across Asia will get to see his work in person and witness the very best in innovative British design.

It’s important international initiatives such as this that continue to put British creativity on the global stage and drive growth in our booming creative industries.

An important programme in the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange, the New British Inventors: Inside Heatherwick Studio exhibition has opened in Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) Art Museum in Beijing, running from 4 to the 21 June. The UK is widely recognised as a global leader in contemporary architecture and design. The New British Inventors: Inside Heatherwick Studio exhibition showcases some of the best of British innovation in the field.

Attended by guests from the creative industries, education and media, the exhibition was officially opened on 4 June with a series of speeches from Director of CAFAM, Mr Wang Huangsheng, President of CAFA, Fan Dian, British Ambassador to China Barbara Woodward, and Thomas Heatherwick himself.

Curated by Kate Goodwin (Drue Heinz Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts) and designed by Heatherwick Studio, the exhibition explores the rigorous process of critical thinking and questioning that goes into the studio’s design process, with finished projects shown alongside experiments with form and materials.

Established by Thomas Heatherwick in 1994, Heatherwick Studio is recognised for its work in architecture, urban infrastructure, design and strategic thinking. At the heart of the studio’s work is a profound commitment to finding innovative design solutions, with a dedication to artistic thinking and the latent potential of materials and craftsmanship. Today a team of 180, including architects, designers and makers work from a combined studio and workshop in Kings Cross, London.

Highlights on display exemplifying the UK as a pioneer in design, includes sketches, models and films of the UK Pavilion, Shanghai World Expo (2010), the Olympic Cauldron, London (2012) and the Rolling Bridge, London (2004).

Following its display in Beijing, the exhibition will travel to Shanghai and be shown at the Power Station of Art from 9 July to 8 August.

Inspiring creative talent

Supported by the GREAT Britain campaign, the exhibition aims to inspire and provide a platform for British companies and designers to develop new collaborations in China. A series of talks, workshops and masterclasses showcasing British design, architecture, engineering, fashion and technology, are being held in parallel to the exhibition.

In Beijing, the opening was followed by a Smart Talk given by Thomas Heatherwick in a filled auditorium. The talk provided an interactive narrative to some of Heatherwick Studio’s greatest projects, discussing how these were conceived, designed, and created. The talk was attended by members of the public, students and industry representatives, who had the opportunity to ask questions afterwards. The 2015 Smart Talk series, which is supported by Rolls-Royce, aims to highlight the UK’s excellence in education and to present experts who were shaped by their British education.

On Saturday 6 June, a masterclass to share insight into the studio’s approach to design was led by Maker at the Heatherwick Studio, Alex Flood. Curator, Kate Goodwin, gave a guided tour of the exhibition, offering unique insight into the process of creation of the Heatherwick Studio’s work.

Creativity in education

Alongside this, the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy is organising a series of activities encouraging people to study arts, architecture, and designing in the UK.

On May 15, The British Council launched a design competition called Think Design Make. Students are invited to submit a design for a futuristic bridge, and five lucky winners will be selected in early September to win a prize trip to the UK to meet masters in the field. For more information please visit the Education UK website or follow Education UK Wechat.

The exhibition’s launch in China coincides with the release of the third edition of ‘Thomas Heatherwick: Making’, published by Thames & Hudson (July 2015).The book is available to purchase at both the China Academy of Fine Arts Museum in Beijing and the Power Station of Art in Shanghai.

Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive, British Council said

I am delighted that the British Council is working with the GREAT Britain campaign, Heatherwick Studio and a host of the most talented architects and designers working in Britain today on ‘New British Inventors’.

By showcasing the very best of the UK’s design talent to audiences across East Asia we will help create a dialogue which contributes to the continued vitality of cultural life in the UK, opens opportunities for UK institutions, businesses and organisations, and builds relationships across the region.

Published 12 June 2015