St George’s Day – celebrating British designers
23rd April is St George’s Day – a day of celebrating all things English and British – so here are some of our favourite British designers.
Sir Norman Foster
Born in 1935 and trained at the university of Manchester and Yale University in the US, Norman Foster has risen to fame as the one of the world’s most well-known and prolific builders of landmark buildings.
His buildings are known for their high-tech styling, typically comprised of structures surrounded by a lightweight shell. He was one of the first to move an elevator to the exterior of a building and is well-known for creating open plan, green spaces and utilising atria to maximise the use of natural light, and like Westbury, Foster has focused heavily on creating a visual connection between the outside and inside.
At home, Foster is the name behind the Gherkin, Sage Gateshead and the Millennium Bridge and further afield he has stunned the world with his work on the Milau Viaduct – southern France, the Hearst Tower – New York and in recent years work with Apple for several prominent stores and the ring-shaped Apple Park, built as a visitor centre for Apple, which has been designed as a concept that offers flexibility and unlimited possibilities.
Foster’s work is largely inspired by his love of engineering, rather than art and his ability to identify and absorb the intricacies of the way things work from aircraft to clock mechanisms. His ability to weave these lessons into his designs have set him apart from his contemporaries keeping his ideas fresh, innovative and somewhat controversially, profuse.
Born in London in 1970, Thomas Heatherwick studied three-dimensional design at Manchester Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art. He is one of Britain’s most notorious designers, in part for his untamed imagination and to some extent for the problems that have besieged his ideas and designs. Spanning various industries, his designs include furniture, buses, bridges, conceptual pieces for the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony and buildings.
Heatherwick created his breakthrough building project in 2010 at the Shanghai Expo, with the formation of the British Pavilion and is now most well-known for his work on the Olympic Cauldron, Pier 55 in New York, headquarters for Google, and for his part in the failed and costly design concept of the ‘Garden Bridge’ for London, which threatened to come in at a cost of £200 million up from the original £60 million estimate, with a maintenance costs of £3 million a year.
Heatherwick has an imagination that knows no bounds, giving him an ability to play and create in a space that many other designers are simply unable to reach, largely because they are constrained by convention and rules. Heatherwick designs first and worries about the details later, which has sometimes been to his detriment. His way of working runs concurrent to the Westbury way, where classic design principles come first, and practicalities are always at the forefront of our thinking. However, the world would be a duller place without such blue-sky thinkers and for that reason he is a firm favourite at Westbury.
As the mentor of one of our own designers at Westbury, we are proud to celebrate the high quality work of Alison Crowther. Alison designs and carves furniture and sculptures using unseasoned English oak. Her extraordinary craftsmanship is particularly impressive not only because of its scale, but because of its organic resonance. When working on a design, her chisel is guided by the grain of the wood and the dynamics of the annual rings giving the sculpture a rambling characteristic the exudes unforced spontaneity and life.
Born in 1965, Alison studied at the Royal College of Art and is one of the few women that have truly carved a name for herself working in wood, which is now exhibited worldwide, with notable commissions from the Rothschild Foundation at Waddesdon and the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, London.
With a respect for the material she works with and for the planet that delivers it, like Westbury, Alison is committed to sustainability, sourcing timber only from woodlands that are managed to the highest standards and from scouring nature’s own gifts in the aftermath of storms.
Born in 1939, Nick Grimshaw graduated from the Architectural Association in London in 1965 and was quick to set up a successful and award-winning practice for its innovative and largely organic approach to design that has consistently drawn upon the dynamics of the surrounding space of the building in question.
Grimshaw has worked on high profile projects all over the world but is undoubtedly most well-known for his geodesic concept design on the Eden Project in Cornwall, Waterloo International Station and the Financial Times Print Works building in London. Grimshaw was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002 and went on to become the President of the Royal Academy of Arts in 2004.
Nearly all of the designers at Westbury voted for Nick Grimshaw as one of their favourite designers and this is probably because our designers share the same passion for environmental management, of which Grimshaw has been something of a pioneer. Grimshaw’s buildings are also constructed with real attention to detail and with a dedication to aftercare, another aspect which makes it very close to the Westbury way of working, since every aspect of our design, construction and engineering is conceived to ensure that there is a minimum of ongoing maintenance and that the user is left with a building that sits harmoniously in its environment for generations to come.