Philadelphia Museum of Art Will Present Rhythms of Nature: The Art and Design of DRIFT
DRIFT will receive the Collab Design Excellence Award on November 19, 2022
The Philadelphia Museum of Art will present Rhythms of Nature: The Art and Design of DRIFT, an exhibition exploring 15 years of innovative production by the Amsterdam-based studio co-founded by Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta. DRIFT creates sculptures, environments, and performances that expand upon the relationships between humanity, nature, and technology. The exhibition examines how the studio’s immersive artworks come vividly to life through complementary practices of design and engineering. In recognition of the studio’s achievements, Collab, the museum affiliate group for modern and contemporary design, will honor DRIFT with its Collab Design Excellence Award, on November 19 at 5:30 p.m.
The exhibition conveys the various ways in which DRIFT seeks to reconnect people with the rhythms and structures of the natural world through experiential artworks, often on an urban or architectural scale. Aiming to foster hope for the future, Gordijn and Nauta see nature itself as a technology worthy of study and emulation by artists and designers. Through drawings, models, prototypes, and other documents of experimentation, the exhibition additionally offers glimpses into the research and engineering that underlies the apparent effortlessness of DRIFT’s creations.
The highlight of the exhibition is Fragile Future, a site-specific installation considered to be among the studio’s most influential works. LEDs covered in dandelion seeds—painstakingly hand-glued to mimic the natural shape of the flowerheads—are caught within a web of delicate bronze circuitry. The work’s modular circuits allude to a technology-driven present, while the botanical elements propose a precarious reconciliation between the natural and human-made worlds.
Another section of the exhibition focuses on the Ghost Collection. Foregrounding DRIFT’s boundary-pushing experiments in digital fabrication, these transparent works contain free-floating organic shapes within their hard-edged silhouettes. These phantom-like forms suggest how everyday objects might possess “inner selves” separate from human intentions. The variety of works in the collection also refers to historic hierarchies of furniture found in aristocratic settings, whereby larger, more elaborate seats would be reserved for those of higher social status.
Rhythms of Nature: The Art and Design of DRIFT also explores the process through which large-scale immersive works originate on smaller scale in the studio. A variety of models, drawings, prototypes on view document the studio’s experimental journeys, leading to finished artworks that balance aesthetics, engineering, and narrative. The breadth of skills and knowledge informing these materials and technologies illuminate the multidisciplinary nature of the studio and illustrate DRIFT’s exploratory approach to artistic creation.
The exhibition is organized by Colin Fanning, Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts. He said: “In a moment when the climate crisis is commanding artists’ and designers’ attention more than ever, the beauty and underlying optimism of DRIFT’s work provide a charismatic entry point for grappling with our relationships to technology, nature, and each other. We are grateful to the studio and to Collab for making this exhibition possible and look forward to welcoming our visitors into the contemplative space of the show.”
Collab Gallery (219)
Rhythms of Nature: The Art and Design of DRIFT, the 2022 Collab Design Excellence Award exhibition, is made possible by The Lisa S. Roberts and David W. Seltzer Endowment Fund in Support of the Collab Design Excellence Award Exhibition. Additional support provided by Collab.
Co-founded by Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, DRIFT is a multidisciplinary studio that freely bridges the categories of art and design. The Amsterdam-based duo has grown since 2007 into a team of more than sixty members, producing sculptures, environments, and performances that offer striking commentaries and speculative imaginings about humanity’s relationships with nature and technology.
Collab is the group of design professionals and enthusiasts who support modern and contemporary design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Its members engage with design year-round through exhibition previews, field trips, special access to the world-renowned collections, lectures, and opportunities to meet and learn from design curators and visionaries. Curatorial guidance and exchange for Collab is provided by Kathryn Hiesinger, the J. Mahlon Buck Family Senior Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700.
About the Design Excellence Award
Each year, Collab presents the Design Excellence Award to a design professional or manufacturer whose impact on design is inspirational. Past recipients include Rolf Fehlbaum, Marc Newson, Paula Scher and Seymour Chwast, Zaha Hadid, Alberto Alessi, Marcel Wanders, Frank O. Gehry, Faye Toogood, and many other influential figures. DRIFT is the recipient of the 29th Design Excellence Award. Link to a complete list of recipients.
The 2022 Collab Design Excellence Award is sponsored by
Additional support provided by Roche Bobois North East, Haworth, Millésimé, Marguerite Rodgers Interior Design, and Eileen and Tony Tognini.
Members of the media are invited to attend this year’s presentation of the Collab Design Excellence Award on Saturday, November 19, 2022. For details and to RSVP, contact email@example.com. For further information about Rhythms of Nature: The Art and Design of Drift, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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