All Articles
All Articles

Thomas Heatherwick East Beach Cafe

by Leonora Oppenheim
on 05 March 2008

We cannot claim to be experts on beach cafe architecture, but one look at Thomas Heatherwick's East Beach Cafe and one can't help but think that this is a woefully under-explored area of building design. Surely it's rife with exciting and innovative possibilities, but then that's the British designer's great talent, creating unexpected forms in unexpected places which, on sight, make you reevaluate all your previous preconceptions about a building, sculpture or product. The East Beach Cafe, situated in the small seaside town of Littlehampton, is another hot contender for the Brit Insurance Design Awards. From last week's post about Ma Ke's sculptural fashion to this week's sculptural architecture, the key is that form and function are blended to create something totally unforgettable.

Thomas Heatherwick, who surprisingly has not graced Cool Hunting's pages before now, is the great British design star of the last decade, pushing forward concepts of what design can be on all fronts, from handbags and shop interiors to bridges, Japanese temples and 56-meter tall sculptures. He certainly doesn't let the small detail of not being a trained architect stop him. His studio in London goes from strength to strength with each new project and now employs over 30 designers, architects and project managers.


For the East Beach Cafe, as with many iconic creative works, it was the happy union of designer and client that helped realize the project. It is often the foresight of a open-minded client that creates great opportunity and in this case it was Littlehampton resident Jane Wood. She bought the site after the old beach cafe closed down and, appalled by the proposal for a new unsightly cafe, she moved to stop it. She said of her impetuous decision, "My house looked out on to East Beach. I felt I had to save this very special place and so I did a crazy thing and bought the business."


That crazy thing turned into a golden ticket as soon as she commissioned Heatherwick Studio, knowing that only something extraordinary would be created by Thomas and his team. The risk paid off with Jane and her daughter Sophie now doing a roaring trade for queues of people who have that very British predilection of visiting the seaside in all weathers. The transformative effect of great architecture (otherwise known as the "Bilbao effect") is taking hold in Littlehampton, where the masses are making the pilgrimage to eat fish and chips in the extraordinary East Beach Cafe.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring
Loading More...