August 01, 2021

Studio Drift

By 1605 Publishers
Design, Portfolio


Because of its strong fascination with nature, studio DRIFT created Shylight. Inspired by the world of flowers and their mechanism of closing at night, with an intention of  self-defence and conservation of resources. This unique natural instrument also known as "nyctinasty" and inspired DRIFT to create Shylight, a sculpture that unfolds and retreats to its original state to make a fascinating choreography, mirroring the nyctinasty of real flowers.  

Man-made objects tend to have a static form, while everything natural in this world, including people, are subject to constant metamorphosis and adaptation to their surroundings. Shylight is the result to the question “how an inanimate object can mimic those changes that express character and emotions”? After a research period of five years, DRIFT created the perfect form to visualise their concept. Shylight has become an object that feels alive because of unpredictable, natural-looking movements: it descends while blossoming in all its glorious beauty, only to subsequently close and retreat upward again. Shylight is created out of many layers of silk, which causes it to move with the grace of a dancer. The movement of the work can be controlled to the millimetre and gives it a subtle choreography.

Shylight, by DRIFT | Shylight is part of the permanent collection of Rijksmuseum.


With Fragile Future III, DRIFT fuses nature and technology into a multidisciplinary light sculpture. The project is a critical yet utopian vision on the future of our planet, wherein two seemingly opposite evolutions have made a pact to survive. 

The sculpture consists of three-dimensional bronze electrical circuits connected to light-emitting dandelions. The sculpture can go on endlessly as new circuits can always be added. It contains real dandelion seeds that were picked by hand and glued, seed by seed, to LED lights. This labour-intensive process is a clear statement against mass production and throwaway culture. 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? DRIFT proposes a vision of that future in her own signature aesthetics: a distinct mix between high-tech and poetic imagery in which light functions as a symbolic and emotional ingredient. Fragile Future III conveys, and elicits, emotion while simultaneously referring to the fact that light lies at the basis of all life. 



Flylight is a site-specific art installation that directly interacts with its surroundings. The light mimics the behaviour of a flock of birds in flight, symbolising the conflict between the safety of the group and the freedom of the individual.

While birds are the ultimate symbol of freedom, in a flock, they move as one single entity creating mesmerising patterns. This flock behaviour is an example of ‘self-organisation’, meaning that no single bird leads the flight. Amazingly enough, each individual senses the speed and the direction of the group. This natural phenomenon formed a source of inspiration for Flylight, for which the flock behaviour was translated into agent-based software that was especially developed for this work. It consists of delicate glass tubes that light up in an unpredictable way, partially responsive to external stimuli. The pattern, in which the installation lights up, is not pre-programmed but rather has an interactive compound: just like a real flock of birds. The work questions the delicate balance between the group and the individual. Just like birds, people find safety in a group, while at the same time they are forced to act according to a set of rules on which society functions. The one who chooses individual freedom above these rules, is forced to operate outside of society. Where, then, lies the perfect balance between the two? 

Related Posts

Axel Vervoordt | Interview
Step into Axel Vervoordt's world, where he transforms the historic Kanaal distillery into a captivating blend of art, ar
The Future of Art Books: A Glimpse into an Enduring Tradition
Explore the future of art books as enduring treasures of creativity and personalizsation. Learn from the insights of ren
Howard Greenberg | Interview
Check out this excerpt from our interview with Howard Greenberg, a prominent figure in the world of photography. Howard
UNSEEN | 1605 Collective
Discover the Success of 1605 Collective at UNSEEN Photobook Fair! Explore exceptional art books, prints, and book-relate

Studio Drift

Founded in 2007 by a duo of Dutch artists Lonneke Gordijn (1980) and Ralph Nauta (1978), Studio DRIFT works with experiential sculptures, installations and performances. It manifests the phenomena and hidden properties of nature with the use of technology in order to learn from the Earth’s underlying mechanisms and to re-establish our connection to it.

Fourteen years later, with a multi-disciplinary team of 64, with both depth and simplicity, DRIFT works to illuminate parallels between man-made and natural structures through deconstructive, interactive, and innovative processes. The artists from the team raise existential questions about what life is and explore a positive scenario for the future.The transformation of the space is what underlies in the principles of the studio and its artworks. For instance a museum or a gallery often do the justice to a work of art and open up its potential through its design and architecture. Studio DRIFT unites the notion of space with human ideas that are oriented on collaborating with nature and reconnection to our planet.

DRIFT has realised various exhibitions and projects around the world. Their work has been exhibited at Victoria & Albert Museum (2009, 2015), Met Museum (2010), Stedelijk Museum (2018), UTA Artist Space (2019), Garage Museum (2019), Mint Museum (2019), Biennale di Venezia (2015), Pace Gallery (2017) amongst others. Their work is held in the permanent collections of the LACMA, Rijksmuseum, SFMOMA, Stedelijk Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2014, DRIFT was awarded the Arte Laguna Prize, Venice.