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Designers heyday - Thomas Heatherwick and Sir Jonathan Ive

Comparing their work to composing music and solving a murder, they are two of the world's most influential designers.


Thomas Heatherwick / Photo:

Thomas Heatherwick's Studio designed London's new bus, which uses 40% less energy while providing human (not flourescent) lighting and swooping stairs to the upper deck; the Paddington pedestrian bridge, which lifts and rolls back to allow boats to leave the inlet, and ends up looking like a fiddlehead fern; and Britain's shimmering Seed Cathedral at the Shanghai Expo, to celebrate the Millennium Seed bank collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, creating, with thousands of transparent perspex rods tipped with seeds, a structure which has the mystery of Newgrange and the artist's intuitive vision of the future. Eight million people visited the Seed Cathedral.


The UK Pavilion and Seed Cathedral / Photo: Iwan Baan

Heatherwick Studio has designed the soon to be revealed Olympic Cauldron, too, and 130 other projects since opening in 1994. These are featured in a new exhibit at the V&A and in a 600-page book soon to be published by Thames & Hudson.

Heatherwick describes solving a design problem as if it were a crime. He sees design and life as one. He loves ideas, and giving them shape, creating environments that give people joy and life. He'd like to design a hospital. At the root of everything he does is "a fascination with ideas" - gorgeous, life-changing ideas.


Jonathan Ive / Photo: APPLE

In 1998, Jonathan Ive revolutionized computer design by creating the iMac, an Apple computer whose successive incarnations inside coloured and translucent 'televisions' seized the imagination of designers and consumers.

Later Ive started to explore how Apple could engineer a computer hard drive that would play thousands of your favourite songs in a box that fits inside your back pocket or purse. Collaborating with manufacturing, software, hardware and electronic teams, he did just that, and created the iconic, best-selling iPod. In 2005, he designed Apple's iPod nano, and in 2007, the iPhone.

From there it was on to the iPad, and in 2012, a knighthood for his contributions to design. He compares design to "music" - a design is like a melody which expresses ideas and feelings in physical forms. At the time of his knighting he said, "I am keenly aware that I benefit from a wonderful tradition in the UK of designing and making".

Ive drives an Aston Martin, and loves machines that solve problems in a calm and serene way. "Our goal is to try to bring a calm and simplicity to what are incredibly complex problems so that you're not aware really of the solution, you're not aware of how hard the problem was that was eventually solved."

Both designers delight in the rational and in solving problems that create new ways of being in our world. They love the beauty of ideas, become real and wonderful as they are given form and dimension. And they enjoy working successfully in teams - big teams.

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