After studying three-dimensional design at Manchester Metropolitan University and at the Royal College of Art, Heatherwick founded Heatherwick Studio in 1994.
Known for its imaginative work in architecture, infrastructure, sculpture, design and strategic thinking, the studio now employees some 180 people, including architects, designers and makers.
Heatherwick’s work includes nationally significant projects, such as the award-winning UK Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010, the Olympic Cauldron for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the New Bus for London. He was the youngest practitioner to be appointed a Royal Designer for Industry, and in 2013 was awarded a CBE for services to design.
Speaking in 2015, the designer explained that his “passion is solving problems”. "We just see everything as problems, whether it’s the Olympic cauldron or a 4 million-square-foot development in Shanghai. It's just a problem to solve,” he explained.
Several Goldsmiths alumni have gone on to work for Heatherwick Studio upon graduating from the Department of Design – named as the best department for design by the Guardian in both 2015 and 2016.
Writer and Goldsmiths lecturer Adam Mars-Jones says: “Thomas Heatherwick has a multi-disciplinary approach, a practice of looking at things afresh and moving in unexpected directions, so that the resulting objects are both elegant design solutions and examples of lateral thinking made visible.”
Matt Ward, Head of the Department of Design at Goldsmiths, adds: “What better inspiration for our students than a man who personifies creativity, innovation, versatility and a respect and dedication to both research and craftsmanship. It’s a privilege to welcome Thomas into the Goldsmiths Fellowship.”
Quotes for Thomas' speech at his graduation ceremony on 13 July 2016
"It’s an honour to be here. This is the most special graduation ceremony I’ve ever witnessed, it really feels like a family all together looking after each other and celebrating. It reminds me of being at the velodrome at the London Olympics when it felt like the cyclists were being floated around the track by people supporting them."
"Goldsmiths has a special role for me because when I was 18 I thought that I wanted to be a designer, but things were getting complicated around me. I had a kind of wobble. There was a summer workshop at Goldsmiths that I came along to in the middle of my BTEC course thing. I came here and there was this fantastic tutor who just put in front of us things to get our teeth into."
"It felt an important moment to reiterate what I’m sure all your tutors have been saying to you: the need to not be scared at this moment. You’ve been trained to be ingenious, to have ideas."
"It’s always tricky, it’s always challenging, but it’s ideas we’re always hungry for. The world needs to keep moving and progressing."