Thomas Heatherwick will present the worlds first single component of metal furniture, extruded by machine, at Haunch of Venison
London this autumn.
The exhibition, Extrusions, will include six extruded, mirror polished, aluminium benches made without fixtures or fittings, which have been produced by the worlds largest extrusion machine. Heatherwick Studio commissioned a specially designed die through which aluminium was squeezed into a chair profile, complete with legs, seat and back. The resulting exhibited extrusions are the early prototypes for a final outdoor installation a 100 metre-long piece that tangles into an extraordinary form, which will be constructed and exhibited in 2010.
The project, 18 years in the making, takes technology used in the aerospace industry to produce the worlds largest ever extruded piece of metal. The project is also the first limited-edition work exhibited by Thomas Heatherwick.
The graceful aluminium pieces each have a unique, dramatic form that combines the back, seat and legs into one element. The sweeping parallel lines created through the extrusion process are contorted into random, gnarled endings: arbitrary swirling forms created through the inherent initiation and termination of the extrusion process.
Until now, extrusion technology has been limited to smaller dimension profiles, and since graduating from the RCA in 1994, Heatherwick has been searching for a machine capable of producing a chair with legs, seat and back from a single component.
Heatherwicks early graduation bench illustrates this long held quest: a simple L profile twisted into a bench form. Finally, last year an industrial factory was sourced with whom to experiment and realise this ambition. Following the success of these first extrusions, Heatherwick is now working on more commercial products using this process to create components for architectural construction, façade design and mass produced seating ranges suitable for contract.
Famed for his adventurous and original use of manufacturing processes and materials across the disciplines of architecture, art and design, Heatherwick is also renowned for his innovative, bold ideas at the forefront of manufacturing and design practice. Heatherwicks projects take the design process to its broadest reaches, from entire buildings to handbags, bridges to furniture, and always involve a radical approach to manufacturing processes and use of materials.
Thomas Heatherwick (b. 1970) founded the Heatherwick Studio in London in 1994 after graduating from the RCA. Today, the practice operates from a combined studio and workshop in Kings Cross, London where a team of architects, designers and makers work on projects ranging from buildings and bridges to products and large scale works of art. The studios work includes La Maison Unique, the flagship store for luxury French brand, in New York Longchamp, multi-award winning East Beach Café, Littlehampton, and bridge, Paddington. Current projects include a monastic building in Sussex and the British Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo in 2010.