Extrusions by Thomas Heatherwick

London Design Festival 09: an exhibition of six extruded aluminium furniture pieces by British designer Thomas Heatherwick has opened at Haunch of Venison in London.

Heatherwick's Extrusions series is produced using the world's largest extrusion machine, with each piece consisting of a single piece of aluminium polished for 300 hours to achieve a mirror finish (the images here show the pieces before polishing - pictures of the final installation to follow).

Extrusions is at Haunch of Venison, 6 Burlington Gardens, London W1s 3ET until 7 November.

See all our stories about London Design Festival 2009 in our special category.

More info from Haunch of Venison:


Until 8 NOVEMBER 2009

Thomas Heatherwick will present the world’s 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 world’s 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 world’s 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.

Heatherwick’s 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. Heatherwick’s 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.