For designer Simon Heijdens, elements drawn from nature provide inspiration and a starting point for a reevaluation of the spaces and places that define daily life. Inspired by the transformative and life-enhancing potential of nature, Heijdens’s work, which spans site-specific installations to products, is a poetic response meant to challenge the homogeneity of our built environments. For a new installation commissioned for the Hyperlinks exhibition, Heijdens again returned to his interest in wanting to challenge and interrupt the static nature of interior space. Both as an homage to Chicago’s well-known windy climate, as well as a statement about our interior environments becoming progressively more hermetically sealed from physical elements, Heijdens determined to create a project in which the exterior climactic conditions would be made visible on the inside. For Shade, a live sensor positioned outside of the museum tracks the passing of wind across the building. This movement physically manifests itself inside the museum in the form of a light projection that passes across the windows of the gallery changing in opacity from light to dark. The project is a prototype of a new application for liquid crystals. The cells are embedded into a film that is applied to the windows. When an electric current passes through the cells they change in appearance from transparent to opaque. More abstract in realization than earlier works, the effect is no less powerful, transforming the ambience of the space as a reflection of exterior climactic conditions. Although Heijdens has to date focused on harnessing digital means as a format for his practice, instead of glorifying technology he uses it in the service of qualitatively different objects that go beyond previously realized designs, offering new takes on quotidian experiences.
Simon Heijdens. Shade, 2010. Celia and David Hilliard Fund.