WSJ Names Richard Serra and Thomas Heatherwick Innovators of the Year

Richard Serra and Thomas Heatherwick are among the seven honored at WSJ. Magazine's fifth annual Innovator Awards last night at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Serra, who earlier this year celebrated the completion of his second Qatari sculpture, was deemed 2015's "Art Innovator;" Heatherwick's "adaptive designs" landed him the title of "Design Innovator" of the year. Read on for a short interview with both winners.

ART INNOVATOR: Richard Serra on...

  • His lifestyle: “I don’t participate in the great social life. I’m fairly obsessively internally driven.”
  • His commitment to art: “You have to be obstinate. You have to have an internal necessity. If you decide early on that you want an alternate life, no matter your success or reward, you have to stick with it.”
  • Being inspired by Diego Velázquez’s 1656 masterpiece, Las Meninas, in which the painter depicts himself looking outward:  “I realized I would never get beyond the virtuosity of that painting, how Velázquez somehow made the viewer the subject.”
  • Applying Velázquez’s technique to sculpture: “I wanted the viewer to become the subject of his own experience.”

DESIGN INNOVATOR: Thomas Heatherwick on...

  • His decision not to pursue architecture and its two-dimensional nature: “It had nothing to do with classical versus modern detailing. People were not understanding how light falls on surfaces, and what gives the necessary interest to make a large-scale object, such as a building, have a human scale that makes you feel comfortable around it. The aspiration I’d often seen was toward perfection, which actually isn’t in our human nature. We tend to like people who have quirks and tics and peculiarities.”
  • Wanting all of his employees at Heatherwick Studio to thrive: “We’re very romantic about the cultural individual. I feel like I disappoint people one by one when I say, ‘No, we had these ideas all of us together, analyzing, refining and throwing out the bad ones and just refining down.’ The lens we were looking at to judge was the important thing.”
  • The American appetite to get projects done: “Ambition is a form of creativity. To have the courage to think that something is possible, and what its real implications are, is another vast aspect of imaginative attention. Realizing that is stretching me—I’ve felt creatively stretched in America.”
  • What drives his designs: “How do you make a building perform in the best possible way but not detract from people’s lives? … Because the place you really value is your own place. It sounds so basic. But that’s what we’ve tried to do.”

Heatherwick's proposed Pier 55 in New York. Image © Pier55, Inc. and Heatherwick Studio, Renders by Luxigon

You can read WSJ. Magazine's full features on Serra (here) and Heatherwick (here). Both are featured in the Magazine's November issue, on stands now.

About this author
Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "WSJ Names Richard Serra and Thomas Heatherwick Innovators of the Year" 09 Nov 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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