Daan Roosegaarde Grow Installation

WORDS Palesa Kgasane

Studio Roosegaarde, a Rotterdam-based design practice, created the GROW light installation to showcase the often neglected beauty of agriculture. 

GROW is an homage to agriculture in which a field is transformed into an art installation consisting of UV lights. Its creator, Daan Roosegaarde, designed the 2000-square-metre work using red, blue and ultraviolet lights, transforming a Dutch field into a prototype for how “certain ‘light recipes’ can be used to increase plant growth and reduce the use of pesticides by up to 50 per cent”.

The innovative idea came about when the generally urban-loving Roosegaarde went on a rare nature excursion to a farm, where he noticed the beauty of vast agricultural fields. A meditation on how much of the earth that sustains is unseen, GROW is an enlightened idea – and yes, quite literally, too. 

The Netherlands, in spite of its small size, is one of the biggest producers of food crops in the world, and is highly advanced when it comes to agricultural technology. Reflecting this, Roosegaarde’s creative process included exploring the opportunity to learn about the  photobiological technology used in greenhouses, and taking this to a bigger scale.

Though GROW is the latest of several projects by Roosegaarde, the designer hopes to take this one to the world as he feels that by experimenting with various light “recipes”, the installation is promoting science in agriculture and pushing for a universal appreciation of farmers. GROW forms part of an artist-in-residence programme sponsored by Rabobank, and is the first of a series of Studio Rosengaarde installations that will try to exemplify how a better world can be created through a combination of art and science.

The final light installation creates patterns that mimic motion; this “movement”, says Studio Roosegaarde, in turn resembles “dancing”, creating a scene of utopian beauty.

“I want to design things which make people curious about the future, not sad or mad,” says Roosegaarde. He adds, “Light is my language. Light is not decoration, it’s activation and it’s communication.”