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Studio Drift and Sou Fujimoto explore rhythms of nature with Basel installation

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Studio Drift and Sou Fujimoto installation for Superblue

Dutch design office Studio Drift and Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto have designed an installation where flower-like lamps rise and fall within a “forest” of wooden beams.

Occupying the entrance to this year’s edition of Design Miami/Basel, the installation combined two works: Shy Synchrony, by Studio Drift, and Forest of Space, by Fujimoto.

Studio Drift and Sou Fujimoto installation for Superblue
Studio Drift’s Shylights rise and fall overhead. Photo is by Ossip van Duivenbode

Shy Synchrony showcased Shylight, a suspended textile lamp that is programmed to continuously rise and fall, creating an opening and closing motion that is reminiscent of flowers blossoming.

Here, dozens of these lights were grouped together and choreographed so that they moved in synchronisation.

Shylight by Studio Drift at installation for Superblue
These textile lamps open and close like flowers as they move

Studio Drift’s aim was to encourage people to be more aligned with the rhythms of the natural world. It is a theme that often features in the studio’s work, with past examples including Franchise Freedom, which featured a swarm of drones.

“Natural movements remind the body of how to adapt and align with our environment,” said Lonneke Gordijn, who leads Studio Drift with partner Ralph Nauta.

“In this time of disconnect and climate crisis, we are in desperate need of aligning with each other to create a vision that will secure the future of our planet,” she stated.

Forest of Space by Sou Fujimoto
Sou Fujimoto’s Forest of Space frames the installation

Forest of Space was designed specifically to frame this dynamic performance. Hundreds of wooden beams were arranged vertically, creating a series of curved objects that together formed an ellipse.

Positioned at an angle, these wooden elements doubled as seats, giving visitors a place to take in the artwork.

Fujimoto wanted to create a place where people could “engage in conversations about the past, present, or future of architecture, and about urban settlements and the natural environment”.

Studio Drift and Sou Fujimoto installation for Superblue
These curving seats are made from hundreds of timber lengths

On show at the Messe Basel exhibition centre from 21 to 26 September, the installation was presented by Superblue, a new initiative that aims to create opportunities for large-scale, immersive art installations.

The project was a collaboration with Therme Mind, a joint venture between developer Therme Group and neuroscience expert MindMaze exploring how neurotechnology can be used in art and design to promote mental and physical wellbeing.

Studio Drift and Sou Fujimoto installation for Superblue
The space hosted panel discussions and workshops during Design Miami/Basel

The involvement of Therme Mind led Studio Drift to bring a new dimension to the Shylights, which have previously been presented at Dutch Design Week and at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Unlike previous installations, visitors to Shy Synchrony are taken on a guided meditation experience.

As they arrive, they are given a headset that measures their heart rate activity, brain relaxation patterns and facial movements.

As they experience the installation, the data gathered is processed by an algorithm and fed directly into the control system for the Shylights, guiding their movement patterns to encourage users into “deeper states of consciousness”.

“By integrating Therme Mind’s neurotechnology, Shy Synchrony creates an experience where audiences can become a part of the artwork, observe their mental activity and explore the conditions that support their own mind-body wellbeing,” said Mikolaj Sekutowicz, CEO and co-founder of Therme Art.

Visitors to Superblue installation
Workshops and guided meditation also took place in the space

The space doubled as a venue for panel discussions and workshops hosted by Therme Art.

The headline event, titled Art and Architecture as Healing: Shaping a Mental Health Economy, explored architecture’s potential to improve mental health.

Photography is by Simon Bielander, unless otherwise indicated. Main image is by Ossip van Duivenbode.

Design Miami/Basel took place from 21 to 26 September 2021. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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