Opportunities to understand China, Chinese culture and Chinatown


During his 60 minutes China Exchange interview, British designer Thomas Heatherwick discussed his role in leading the award-winning Heatherwick Studios, his trip in Cape Town South Africa, his exhibition for the Designer Museum in London.

Voted as one of the 50th best dressed people in 2015 by GQ magazine, Thomas started off his Prudential Talk with how he was introduced to Sir David Tang and their first encounter in Hong Kong where he was intimidated as Sir David was “such as big character”. He recalled his exhibition at the Designer Museum in London 13 years ago for the foundation where he was given Twenty-Thousand pounds to buy anything that he regards as good design. He talked about his interests in inventions, and said how in the studio they’ve experienced failures as coming with ideas is easy but how hard it is to come with a product where “it’s much easier to do a building than to do a product”

Thomas said “instead of having 20 objects for a thousand pounds each, we have a thousand objects for 20 pounds each” is best way to get the public to engage with the objects, see and relate what the fashion is. At the same time, he also praised Sir David is a man of “amazing character, bursting with ideas” after sharing his idea over the dining table. He emphasized the importance of connection during as he himself was interested in understanding design and how to connect with people as “there’s no point to do something that nobody can afford, as there’s no point if you can’t package it.”

Returning from Cape Town South Africa, Thomas shared his work on the museum on the waterfront and talked how his first visit to the area 12 years ago influenced his work. He mentioned, in particular, how he was told that the building he’s working in fell into disuse, where designers like him should “use the space to fill the missing gap in Africa’s cultural landscape” as there are “incredible artist in Africa and phenomenal artwork” but the missing piece, he said, was that there have been no major public spaces. He finished by saying it is important to persevere in the development of the character of the building and “how can we make the inside so compelling that even if you’re not interested in contemporary art you’d still need to have a look and then curiosity does the rest.”