Open More Doors is a section by ArchDaily and the MINI Clubman that takes you behind the scenes of the world’s most innovative offices through exciting video interviews and an exclusive photo gallery featuring each studio’s workspace.
This month, we talked with London-based design firm Heatherwick Studio to talk about their multidisciplinary firm, offices, and how their "collaborative" design approach is translated from their own space to their employees and projects.
Set up by Thomas Heatherwick right after he graduated college, Heatherwick Studio is now almost 25 years old with hundreds of multidisciplinary projects around the world. More than 200 designers are divided between one main studio and four smaller offices around the Kings Cross area in London, UK. While the studio doesn't have any offices abroad, their projects, along with some on-site designers are scattered across California, Shanghai, and Cape Town, to name a few.
Lisa Finlay, partner and one of the group leaders at the studio, describes the importance of having an open space, where people from all disciplines can get together to discuss ongoing projects, ideas, and inputs. Design wise, the firm avoids specializing in one typology or scale; instead, they like to keep an open mind to the kind of challenges they will take on. Similarly, the studio's variety of of architects, designers, exhibition designers, product, and graphic designers all work together in an open space collaboratively. Regardless of the number of offices or ongoing projects, the team tries to make sure every member of the studio visits every office regularly, whether it’s for a meeting, lunch, or celebrations.
10 years ago, the space was initially designed to be a restaurant, but was then taken over by the firm and redesigned to match the identity of Heatherwick Studio. Visually, Finlay describes the space as a “visual assault” with the concrete frames and abundance of objects around the walls (models, objects from around the world, collectibles from designers, historic products…). But what might seem as chaotic to most, is considered as a source of inspiration and conversation by Finlay.
There are three workshops within the open space: A large open-plan with meeting rooms, bays, and the kitchen, all flow into the workshop. The large open space houses the physical experimentation and prototyping of projects. The studio starts their design process by understanding what the underlying problem is, and then continue to develop its specific functions and spatial needs. After obtaining an almost clear understanding of the problem, the team begins to develop sketches, sketch models, post-its, etc, all displayed in a pin-up space in that large area.