Iris van Herpen recently created more than a kilometer of hand-sanded concrete three-dimensional designs that shape the new structure of The Netherland’s world-renowned Research Institute for Biodiversity. The new Naturalis boasts a collection of forty-two million objects, ranked amongst the five largest natural history collections in the world, now united with its nine exhibition halls, research facilities, and laboratories in one magnificent combination of interconnected structures designed by Neutelings Riedijk Architects and fashion designer Iris van Herpen.
This synergic collaboration comes as a natural evolution of Iris van Herpen’s multidisciplinary approach to Couture. Her pioneering vision of coalescing art and science, through a design intrinsically connected to architecture, comes to life as a tapestry of three-dimensional textures that constantly morph though-out the whole building. Using a new construction technique specifically developed for this collaboration, the 263 panels were molded from a tailored blend of hand-sanded concrete and small grain-sized white marble aggregate, resulting in a delicate texture that feels and looks as smooth as fabric. In addition to the relief pattern and to the texture of the concrete itself, the interplay of lines provides a third dimension to each panel that reflects the complexity of our geological structure.
Inspired by Naturalis’ DNA, the composition of fossils and the erosion of stones, Van Herpen’s work displays the evolution of the forces behind the forms interlinking her contemporary vision to our Planet’s natural memory of the past. Iris van Herpen’s design span altogether a length of more than one kilometer, gracefully draping as a ribbon around the museum’s stone structure with an artery of diverse textures pulsing across its surface.
“The extraordinary Naturalis collection and the infinite freedom of frozen forms I found in the archive, inspired me to explore the transport of time within nature’s ever-evolving dance,” Herpen said. “The erosion details within rocks, re-sculpted by water throughout centuries and the eternalised mysterious beauty of fossils moved me to drape and pleat with stone instead of silk. Three-dimensional biomorphic patterns entwine the in- and outside of Naturalis, like the archeology of a dress.”
Photography: Daria Scagliola & Stijn Brakkee