Grimshaw Architects' dual focus on industrial and architectural design will be celebrated this month in a featured exhibit at Milan Furniture Fair. In this article, originally published by Metropolis under the title "Down to the Details," author Ken Shulman presents the firm's evolution in the context of the exhibit, touching on the projects being presented and more intriguingly — on how they are being presented.
Shortly after he joined Grimshaw Architects, Andrew Whalley was tasked with putting together an exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London. Titled Product + Process, the 1988 show was decidedly counter-current—a parade of pragmatic, largely industrial structures Grimshaw realized in the UK in the face of surging postmodern fervor. Featured projects included the transparent building the then 15-person firm designed to house the Financial Times’ London printing facilities, and a flexible, easily reconfigurable factory Grimshaw built for Herman Miller in Bath. But it wasn’t the selection of projects that caught the public eye. “We asked our clients to take apart pieces of their buildings, and then rebuild them for the exhibition,” says Whalley, now deputy chairman of Grimshaw. “This wasn’t a typical show of architectural drawings and models.”