Vessel, Thomas Heatherwick's Studio

my creative life

BORING is the enemy: Why Heatherwick Studios inspires Andre Moreira

The creative partner at The&Partnership is energised by the design and architecture studio

By Andre Moreira

"There are two types of leaders. Task-led or people-led… and you’re the latter," a wise man once told me early in my creative director life (it was actually my then CCO, Pedro Bidarra, although he was indeed wise). At the time, I wasn’t too sure about this comment. Did he mean I didn’t care enough about the creative work? Maybe I was more worried about being liked than being great?

Since then, I’ve not only come to accept but embrace this way of thinking. Ed Catmull (also wise) wrote in his must-read-book, Creativity Inc.: "Ideas come from people. Therefore people are more important than ideas." With those words in mind, you won’t be surprised to see that ‘my current inspiration’ is also people-led. Enjoy.

It has been pretty impossible to not be inspired by the singular creative output of Thomas Heatherwick’s Studio throughout the years. From the stunning craftsmanship displayed in the Olympic Cauldron to the scale of ambition (and controversy) behind NY’s Hudson Yards’ Vessel. But after attending one of their recent talks, what has left the most indelible mark was how all their output is anchored in solid, simple, always well thought through and even better communicated philosophies — and all very applicable to our industry.

Extrusion Chair

Thomas Heatherwick's Studio has an insistence on being seen not as another architecture firm but as three-dimensional designers. Able and willing to craft and create not just buildings but chairs, cars and, yes, even cauldrons. I’ve always found this mindset both inspiring and intelligent and tried to pursue it in myself and the teams I’ve helped build — we all have our strengths and weaknesses, but we should never let them pigeonhole who we are and, more importantly, our creative solutions.

Studio Workshop

Secondly, a passion and belief in the power of ‘making’. Their workshop takes up a quarter of the studio (by the way, if anyone who works there is reading this, I’d love to visit!) and is, in Thomas’ own words: "our secret weapon — if all else fails in design, we can make things here." This attitude is one I also truly believe in, but find it can go missing from our industry. To create is to bring into existence (go on Google it), yet we spend inordinate amounts of time theorising and deck-building, rather than making and learning. Fortunately, in my view, not for long. ‘Creators’ (a.k.a. ad creatives’ main competition) are thriving and for one simple reason — they don’t stop at "I had a great idea!"

Humanise Boring-o-meter

The studio also have one big, clear and motivating enemy: BORING! A ‘blandemic’ (I’m so stealing this expression…) of way too plain, flat, straight, shiny, monotonous… and anonymous buildings that are more than uninteresting, they are inhuman. Plain and simply bad for us… and couldn’t you say exactly the same thing about the majority of creative output generated by our industry? It’s time to Humanise. Not just our buildings, but also our ads.


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