Research Task: Hybrid designers

Simon Heijdens was born in the Netherlands, he studied conceptual design before setting up his own studio whilst working as a tutor at The Royal College of Art. Through his designs he aims to trace and reveal the character of the spaces and objects of everyday life, he reinterprets natural processes with unique technologies and embeds these in man-made surroundings, to create mechanisms that reveal the hidden essence of a place.

Here he has created a space called the Silent Room, that is 40 feet long, matt black and fully soundproof, a space where you can be alone, be silent, be at peace without visual or audible interruption, a very rare experience that I can imagine would be strange at first but could become a wonderful space to switch off from the world and immerse yourself in silent thoughts, that would be very handy indeed especially after the year we’ve all experienced!

Simon Heijdens, Silent Room, 2016
Fig. 1 – Silent Room designed by Simon Heijdens

Another of his designs is the Lightweeds. The seeds are digital containing genetic data of a plant species, as the seed grows into a plant it will sway in the wind, changing with the weather patterns throughout the days and seasons. What an interesting concept, a living digital plant that moves and grows alongside live measurements of wind, light and rain that are placed outside the building. Just as you would pass plants when walking in nature and they move and tremble and lose their seeds and then pollinate where they drop, this is a man-made environment and where the plants evolve shows which way the building is used. Pretty amazing!

Fig. 2 – Lightweeds designed by Simon Heijdens

The last of my examples is a design called Shade, a spatial projection of augmented sunlight. As the wind moves outside, the triangular shaped sunlight apertures open and close, wind passes the surface and the triangular cells in the glass turn from opaque to clear, creating a pattern of light indoors. When it is nighttime, the principle is inverted and the light inside filters to the outside projecting onto the surrounding of the building, designed to create atmosphere 24 hours a day.

An intriguing space that has made it’s first commission for the V&A’s new Sainsbury Gallery. A place to be enjoyed by all ages, a space to spend time in, be immersed in mesmerised by the changes that the light creates.

Fig. 3 – Shade designed by Simon Heijdens


Fig. 1 – Silent Room designed by Simon Heijdens (accessed 6.7.21)

Fig. 2 – Lightweeds designed by Simon Heijdens (accessed 6.7.21)

Fig. 3 – Shade designed by Simon Heijdens (accessed 6.7.21)

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