Shylight: The Light Sculpture That Mimics The Movement Of Real Flowers

Lighting comes in all shapes and sizes: recessed lighting fixtures, custom chandeliers, lamps, etc. When we think of lighting, we think of a fixture that provides us light to help us see to perform tasks. But many of us wouldn’t picture lighting as a form of art….which it is! From crystal chandeliers, to sculptural chandeliers, lighting is a great way for accenting different areas and objects, as well was creating a focal, conversational piece in a room. The company Studio Drift has taken sculptural lighting to the next level by providing actual movement within a light fixture that can mimic that of a flower. Meet Shylight: an unfolding masterpiece that opens and closes just like a real flower.


Certain types of flowers like tulips and poppies close up when darkness hits, a process called nyctinasty. Scientists believe that this closing mechanism at night and opening mechanism during the day may be due to differing factors: energy conservation, defense mechanism to certain predators, among other things. Regardless of why these types of flowers do this, Studio Drift created Shylight to give an inanimate object emotion, natural adaptation, and the feeling of aliveness to express a beautiful form of art.  

Shylight’s fixtures are made of silk for its flexibility and lightness, and ability to perform gracious movements just like a real flower. Studio Drift started the conception of Shylight in 2006, creating six generations of the light to perfect it. The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam requested this as a permanent piece, so the team went back to the drawing board to perfect it even more. Each light piece of Shylight has its own unique movements with the help of a computer system that monitors and adjusts the choreographic motions. 

Shylight made an appearance right here in the United States in San Francisco, CA during the FOG Design+Art Fair. The event was held on January 12, 2017 and ended on January 15, 2017. It was Studio Drift’s largest Shylight installation at the time, with 9 fixtures. 

Studio Drift is based out of Amsterdam, with its inception in 2007. The company creates all different types of light, space, and moving sculptures specific for sites like museums and exhibits. They collaborate with scientists, universities, engineers, etc. for research when designing their masterpieces. Studio Drift’s work can be found in the following places below, just to name a few:

  • Victoria & Albert Museum, London
  • The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
  • World Expo Shanghai, China
  • Design Miami Basel, United States
  • Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • M.A.D. New York, United States