New interactive installation by Studio Drift to debut at Newfields

Joey Amato | February 17, 2019

Later this month, guests to Newfields will be greeted by Meadow, a large-scale, kinetic light sculpture by Amsterdam-based art and design collective Studio Drift. Comprised of an “upside-down landscape” of 18 mechanical blossoms that open and close in response to visitors passing below, Meadow will be on view inside the Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion beginning Feb. 22, 2019 through Feb. 23, 2020. This will mark the first time this installation has been exhibited in America.  

Studio Drift is known for their large-scale installations that re-establish the connection between humans and the earth. The Studio was founded in 2007 by Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta shortly after they graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE). The DAE boasts one of the best interdisciplinary design programs in the world, spawning a succession of superstar designers in the 1990s and 2000s, including Hella Jongerius, Maarten Baas, Marcel Wanders, Tord Boontje, Tejo Remy, Richard Hutten, Jurgen Bey, Piet Hein Eek, Nynke Tynagel, Job Smeets and Wieki Somers—all of whom have works in the IMA’s collection.

In their collaborative partnership, Gordijn’s interest in biology and natural systems is matched by Nauta’s deep love of the speculative technologies and social structures found in science fiction. Together the pair creates works that channel the wonder of natural phenomena and challenge the bounds of technological possibility.

In 2014 they produced Shylight, a light sculpture composed of silk flowers that descend, bloom and recede in floating, poetic harmony. The technical components of the Shylight installation took five years to master and involved developing custom circuit boards and software.

Meadow expands upon those concepts and technologies, and both works are inspired by the biological behavior of nyctinasty, the capacity of certain plants to bloom in the daytime and close their petals at night. Suspended from the ceiling inside the Pavilion, the inverted meadow of mechanical flowers reacts to the guests walking beneath them. The color palette of the petals gradually shifts from light to darker, combining with colored LED lights to simulate a skyscape as dawn transitions to dusk.

“The enduring appeal of Lonneke and Ralph’s work is their ability to merge art, design, and technology in a way that sparks wonder for their audiences,” said Shelley Selim, Associate Curator of Design and Decorative Arts. “Meadow captures this beautifully—not only by using cutting-edge tech to mimic nature’s scientific laws, but by evoking the unquantifiable, intrinsic awe and amazement that nature inspires in humankind. I am so thrilled that visitors to Newfields will be the first to see this fantastic piece on American soil.”

Installations by Studio Drift are exhibited in museums, art fairs and institutions all around the world such as the Victoria & Albert Museum (UK), Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (NL), World Expo Shang hai (CN), Art Basel/Miami Basel, Miami (US), Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (NL), M.A.D. New York (US), The Israel Museum (IL), Abu Dhabi Art Fair (UAE) and La Biennale di Venezia (IT), Biennale de São Paolo (Brazil) and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (NL). 

On Feb. 21, join the Studio Drift artists, Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, and Newfields’ Shelley Selim for a free Artist Talk in The Toby to learn more about their process and vision.

Meadow is made possible by the Efroymson Contemporary Art Fund. Additional support is provided by the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation and Ms. Nancy L. McMillan.