Design Indaba 2020: 5 Lighting Designs by Studio Drift

studio drift

COMPILED BY Lindi Brownell Meiring IMAGES courtesy of Design Indaba / via

Studio Drift, a multidisciplinary Dutch design studio founded by artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, creates nature-inspired, technological installations and sculptures that aim to transform the spaces which they inhabit.

Studio Drift will be speaking at Design Indaba 2020, running from 26 – 28 February in Cape Town. We selected 5 stand-out projects that epitomise the studio’s mesmerising work.

1. Flylight

Designed to mimic the behaviour of a flock of starlings, this installation lights up randomly, reacting to external stimuli without being pre-programmed. Made from glass tubes, the installation is inspired by the way in which birds move together when in a flock.

See how this magnificent project came together and the final result in this video:

2. Shylight

Inspired by “nyctinasty”, the process whereby certain flowers close at night, this kinetic installation folds and unfolds itself, creating an almost choreographed sense of movement. It took Studio Drift five years to perfect Shylight, each element of which is made using multiple layers of silk.

Watch the dance of the Shylights in the below video:

3. In 20 Steps

This kinetic installation, made up of 20 glass wings, is inspired by humans’ persistent desire to be able to fly. Explained on Studio Drift’s website, “In 20 Steps captures flight in a single moment. The glass emphasises the fragility of the movement, and of nature itself. The moving glass breaks the natural light in the space and reflects it in moving rays. Altogether, the glass wings give a skeletal vision, [reminiscent of] an almost pre-historic depiction of a flying creature.”

See the installation in action in the video below:

4. Fragile Future III

In a move against throwaway culture, Fragile Future makes use of dandelion seeds that are individually hand-glued to LED lights to create a sculptural installation. For this project, StudioDrift questions: “Are the rapid technological developments of our age really more advanced than the evolution of nature, of which the dandelion is such a transient and symbolic example? And how could those two evolve together?”

Image credit: Ronald Smits

See the development of Fragile Future III in the below video:

5. Ego

This large-scale woven installation is made up of more than 16km of super-thin fluorocarbon that can be controlled through the use of motors. Due to the enormity of the piece, Studio Drift had to make its own weaving loom in order to create it.

Image credit: Marco Borggreve

Here’s a sneak peek of this brand-new work of art:

See more of Studio Drift’s work at The Design Indaba Festival, where Studio Drift is speaking, runs from 26–28 February 2020. For more information, visit