New Bodies, New Worlds: The Collaborative Work of Iris van Herpen and Philip Beesley
October 27, 2016
Since their first conversations in 2012, Atelier van Herpen studio in Amsterdam and Beesley’s Living Architecture Systems Group have been co-creating innovative couture that has been worn by celebrities, circulated in multiple exhibitions, and hailed by global critics. Working within a wide community of scientists, engineers, and artists, Iris van Herpen and Philip Beesley’s collaborative explorations combine exquisitely detailed hand-crafted materials into three-dimensional fabrics, incorporating instrument and toolmaking, advanced manufacturing, next-generation computation and artificial intelligence, and subtle phenomena inspired by the natural world. New Bodies, New Worlds offers a unique view of Van Herpen and Beesley’s collaborative work.
Philip Beesley is a practicing visual artist, architect, and professor whose work is focused on rapidly expanding technology and the culture of responsive and interactive systems. Beesley’s collaborative work has the potential to change how we build architecture by transforming the physical structures that support buildings, the technical systems that control them, and fundamental relationships with the natural world surrounding them. Philip Beesley’s Living Architecture Systems Group employs methods that incorporate industrial design, digital prototyping, instrument making, and mechatronics engineering. Beesley has authored and edited sixteen books and proceedings, and his work was selected to represent Canada at the 2010 Venice Biennale for Architecture. He has been recognized by the Prix de Rome in Architecture, VIDA 11.0, FEIDAD, two Governor General’s Awards, Architizer A+ Art Award, and as a Katerva finalist.
Iris van Herpen stands for reciprocity between craftsmanship and innovation in technique and materials. She creates a modern view on Haute Couture that combines fine handwork techniques with digital technology. Van Herpen forces fashion to the extreme contradiction between beauty and regeneration. Iris’ designs require a unique treatment and creation of material. For this reason, van Herpen prefers interdisciplinary research and often collaborates with other artists and scientists. She states: “For me fashion is an expression of art that is very closely related to me and to my body. I see it as my expression of identity combined with desire, moods, and cultural setting. In all my work I try to make clear that fashion is an artistic expression […] With my work I intend to show that fashion can certainly have an added value to the world, that it can be timeless and that its consumption can be less important than its beginning.”
Sarah Schleuning, conversation moderator, is the curator of decorative arts and design at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. She curated the touring exhibition, Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion, on view at the Grand Rapids Art Museum from October 23, 2016 through January 15, 2017.