Non-architects often ask me who is my favourite architect, no doubt thinking that my answer will be one of the current ‘starchitects’ featured in recent design journals. I don’t they are in this category, but have a look at Heatherwick Studio, http://www.heatherwick.com/ based in London.
Their work is a rich but unlikely smorgasbord of urban/architectural design, sculpture, furniture design, industrial design, and fabrication. While they do architecture and buildings, their most interesting work tends to be smaller scale, unusual projects that they design and either fabricate themselves or work in close conjunction with the fabricators. The control over the process of making the work gives them tremendous leeway over what and how they design, the materials used, and the fabrication process.
Thomas Heatherwick, the firm’s founder, has commented many times on the dullness of modern buildings and cities, part of which he attributes to a lack of craft, lack of inventiveness, and a poor understanding of how materials go together. Their work is always inventive and surprising, often a bit cheeky, occasionally really cheeky. The ‘B for Bang’ sculpture was a powerful and outrageous work–see images below. It was unfortunately taken down for safety and technical reasons. A few of their other works are below.