Dezeen Awards jury picks Franchise Freedom

The winner of the prestigious Dezeen Award for Lighting Design of the Year 2019 is Franchise Freedom, a performative art installation by Amsterdam-based Studio Drift that explores the relationship between humans, nature and technology.

The studio, consisting of Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, programmed hundreds of drones to simulate the behaviour of starlings. Mounted with lights, the autonomous swarm of drones flew in formation over the beach at Art Basel Miami 2017, questing the concept of human freedom and social construct.

Its purpose was to invite the audience to view a poetic side of technical innovation and connect back with nature. Based on a biological algorithm from over 10 years of research into starlings’ flight behaviour, the artwork stretches boundaries between nature and technology and generates an impactful social connection.

Franchise Freedom was later shown in Amsterdam above the IJ and at Burning Man Festival 2018.

Franchise Freedom is a terrifyingly beautiful project,” noted the judges in their comments. “As designers, we need to look at how technology can be used in design to make us think. By using drones to study the behaviour of birds, Studio Drift makes us consider how nature and technology can work together.

“The work provokes thinking about human relationships and questions how much agency we have as individuals versus as a group. Also, it looks cool.”