Six distinguished architects and designers reflect on their first projects

Kate Macintosh's Dawson's Heights. Image © Abi Jones

Six distinguished architects and designers reflect on their first projects

Kate Macintosh's Dawson's Heights. Image © Abi Jones

Taking a retrospective look at the careers of various architects and designers can provide us with an opportunity to see where each got started and how much of their careers have shifted over time.

In this vein, The Guardian recently connected with six architects and designers to ask them about their first commissioned works. In the article, writer Nell Card collects narratives from each visionary to create a succinct survey of this important early work.

Featured below are select images of the inaugural commissioned works of British architects and designers Norman Foster, Thomas Heatherwick, Kate Macintosh, Asif Khan, Mary Duggan and David Chipperfield.

Norman Foster's Amenity centre and passenger terminal for Norwegian shipping company Fred.Olsen & Co. (1969-1970)

Six distinguished architects and designers reflect on their first projects

Cross section of Amenity center and passenger terminal by Norman Foster (c. 1969–70). Image courtesy of Birkin Haward

Thomas Heatherwick's window display for Harvey Nichols department store during London Fashion Week (1997) 

Six distinguished architects and designers reflect on their first projects

Harvey Nichols Department Store in London. Image courtesy of Heatherwick Studio via The Architectural Review

Kate Macintosh's South London housing project in Dawson's Heights (1972) 

Six distinguished architects and designers reflect on their first projects

Dawson's Heights by Kate Macintosh. Image © Abi Jones

Asif Khan was commissioned by Jane Wood and Sophie Murray to design West Beach cafe in Littlehampton (2008)

Six distinguished architects and designers reflect on their first projects

West Beach Cafe by Asif Khan. Image © Julian Abrams

Mary Duggan's self-commissioned project and former residence, King's Grove, in London (2008)

Six distinguished architects and designers reflect on their first projects

King's Grove Residence. Image © Mary Duggan Architects

David Chipperfield designed a residence for fashion photographer Nick Knight in Richmond, London (1990)

Six distinguished architects and designers reflect on their first projects

Private residential home. Image courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects

When starting out, it's easy to dream big and hope for a big break, and though many envision themselves becoming breakout starchitects overnight, in reality, experience tells us that truly accomplished architects tend learn more from adversity, failure, and risk-taking. This lesson makes looking at the early work of prominent architects even more important.