DRIFT Lights Up the Elbphilharmonie with a Sea of Drones, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

The Design Dispatch offers expertly written and essential news from the design world crafted by our dedicated team. Think of it as your cheat sheet for the day in design delivered to your inbox before you’ve had your coffee. Subscribe now

Have a news story our readers need to see? Submit it here.

DRIFT Lights Up the Elbphilharmonie with a Sea of Drones

DRIFT often uses drone installations to commemorate major occasions. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, NASA commissioned the Dutch studio helmed by Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta to light up the night sky above Kennedy Space Center’s rocket garden. At this year’s Miami Art Week, a sea of red-toned drones spelled out “Virgil Was Here” in honor of the late designer Virgil Abloh. This spring, the Dutch duo will bring another spectacular kinetic installation to the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary.

Called Breaking Waves, the seven-minute demonstration uses hundreds of illuminated drones to visually extend the facade of the Herzog & de Meuron–designed building. “As humans, we’re admissible to waves in different ways, and can become one with the movement,” DRIFT co-founder Lonneke Gordijn says. Choreographed to the second movement of Thomas Adès’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, which is being performed at the anniversary concert in the Grand Hall, the moving luminaries playfully forge new connections between the surrounding harbor and the art of performance. Organized in collaboration with Superblue and Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Breaking Waves debuts on April 28 and will be shown after nightfall on the following three evenings. 

Swarovski opens a “Wonderlab” flagship in Shanghai with vivid color-blocked rooms.

After opening 27 Instant Wonder pop-up boutiques around the world, Swarovski has inaugurated a more permanent flagship in Shanghai that features vivid monochromatic rooms. Described as the brand’s most ambitious store yet, the Wonderlab features a rotating central display, custom Swarovski Swan chairs, and a Lucent stairwell that ascends to the aptly named Dream Room. “We’ve been working towards a moment like this,” CEO Michele Molon said in a statement. “The moment where guests can not only explore Swarovski products, but immerse themselves in our point of view, our personality, and the experience of intimately understanding the sense of joy and innovation from which each item is created.” 

The Royal Ontario Museum hires the art world’s first-ever climate change curator.

Likely the first of its kind among major museums, the position at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum investigates the political, social, and cultural impacts of climate change and helps dedicate institutional support to programming and research surrounding it. The position went to conservation biologist Soren Brothers, who previously worked as a professor of limnology (the study of lakes and freshwater bodies) at Utah State University. In his new role, Brothers will galvanize local communities to stay involved in advocating for climate mitigation. “I didn’t like the idea of the thought of my job here to just be a downer on everything that’s happening,” he tells Hyperallergic. “That’s where I started thinking about all the positive things that we can speak to, about the progress that we’re making in terms of technologies and actually implementing them already and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in places like Toronto.” 

Photography by Marcel Steinbach, courtesy MVRDV

The Minecraft-like Valley building by MVRDV nears completion in Amsterdam.

Set to open in 2022, MVRDV’s Minecraft–style Valley building features a cantilevered facade composed of stone-clad terraces and a “green layer” where 13,000 plants, trees, and shrubs have been planted by landscape designer Piet Oudolf. The uneven exterior of the structure is mirrored in the large atrium, named the Grotto, which is covered in stone and lit by two giant skylights. “The houses have bay windows with beautiful views and large balconies with lots of vegetation, turning the whole building into a kind of village green,” co-founder Winy Maas said when the design of the building was unveiled in 2015.

Trailblazing Art Deco designer and artisan Clarice Cliff is the subject of a new film. 

Starring Bridgerton‘s Phoebe Dynevor, Caspian Films’s new drama, The Colour Room takes a look at Cliff’s life. Often derided by men who dominated the industry, her bold and colorful Art Deco-inspired pieces—tea sets, jazz-age figurines and Yo Yo vases—gained enough popularity to propel her to become the first British woman with the title of head designer.  

Jonathan Anderson announces another limited-edition Loewe x Studio Ghibli collection.

Earlier this year, Loewe dropped a capsule with Studio Ghibli. Adorned with the vivid landscapes and beloved characters from the 1988 classic My Neighbour Totoro, the limited-edition collection of bags, t-shirts, and jackets quickly sold out and proves that Hayao Miyazaki’s ability to evoke emotion hadn’t lost any of its power. Though the next outing between the two companies has yet to be formally announced, artistic director Jonathan Anderson has suggested it in a new Instagram post. Earlier this week, he posted a teaser image of the mouse character Boh peeking out of a Loewe shopping bag and followed it up with a slideshow of more Spirited Away characters, suggesting the label will turn towards Studio Ghibli’s beloved 2001 film. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for a formal announcement.

Today’s attractive distractions:

Over the years, the red pill from the Matrix has been co-opted by bad-faith actors.

Cyril Lancelin dreams up a symbolic structure made of gigantic rotating Bitcoins.

A new crop of “distraction-free” writing devices may keep us from procrastinating.

Scientists discover a small pocket of water in the Valles Marineris canyon on Mars.

All Stories