Cauldron by Thomas Heatherwick: catching the power of world talent

Heatherwick has once again shown what imagination is capable of.

Credits: Architects Journal

Each athlete, each matchstick of talent, shines in the dark. A meeting of world talent in the stadium. A glimpse of the energy that fuels the progress of civilisation. This is how we build a cauldron of fire. A spectacular moment to share. To conceal and incorporate the creative process of the cauldron within the stadium gives the audience a chance to participate and interact with the cauldron sculpture.

I have mentioned Heatherwick’s designs in my previous post. His works have a sculptural, sometimes ghostly quality to it. His sculptures are visceral and corporeal. Similar to his London Bus design and the Seed Cathedral, it is easy to understand and difficult to forget. If you are interested in creativity, I highly recommend Alan Yentob’s documentary on Heatherwick’s design. I am a big fan of sculptures, and think they are very poetic, meditative presences that echo the unspeakable inside us. For instance, looking at the sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore in different settings give me the shivers.

What came to mind also is the simplicity in Ai Wei Wei’s Serpentine Pavilion at Hyde Park – a quiet, half-concealed pavilion made of stone and cork wood, reminiscent of those airy pavilions in China where old men like to gather and play a game of chess – at the stone chessboard or table.

The designs of these two architects share some affinities in their desire to simplify and embody truths. They both emphasise the manipulation of material, although in my opinion Heatherwick exercises a more managed, thoughtful approach towards the crafted shapes of his works.

A clip on Dezeen shows how Heatherwick, as a boy, used to make his own Christmas cards. As a designer, he plays with the idea of using the stamps in a different way to create surprise. Imagination can start in very small places, in our familiar territories.

Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary exhibition at the V&A from now until 30 September.

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