Watch Studio Drift swarm NASA Apollo 11 50th anniversary with drone installation

At the Kennedy Space Center on 16 July, Studio Drift’s lyrical Franchise Freedom contemplated the future of innovation

Watch the Franchise Freedom performance by Studio Drift at the NASA Rocket Garden. Videography: courtesy of Studio Drift. Photography: Ossip van Duivenbode

‘We hope there is more intelligent life out there. Our technology will hopefully create the connection towards this.’ Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta of Studio Drift share their musings about life on Mars (and general outer space) with us. It’s hard to think it has been 50 years since Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Such a trailblazing moment in the world’s history can only be celebrated in true future-thinking fashion – an excuse to ponder on revolutionary ideas in the next semi-centennial. The Amsterdam-based visionaries have been called upon by NASA to perform Franchise Freedom, an installation that has an otherworldly and mesmeric energy of its own.

Three hundred luminous Intel drones floated above the NASA Rocket Garden on 16 July, reflecting the flocking of starlings, a graceful movement generated by computer algorithms. While illuminating the sky and saluting our connection with space, the artwork is a catalyst for important conversations about life on earth too. ‘The work explores the structures of nature and humanity to challenge the current culture and to move forward for the benefit of mankind’. Franchise Freedom’s experiential presence has captivated audiences at Burning Man and Design Miami previously, and its role at the Kennedy Space Center, the epicentre of innovation, is the start of a global tour that will continue to forge connections, immerse audiences and ignite even more dialogue.

Apollo 11’s epic undertaking in 1969 allows us to look back on how this instant moulded the past 50 years. ‘It was not only about the first steps on the moon, but also a moment where we realised what technology can do for mankind; a moment where we collectively contemplated our life on earth. Franchise Freedom embodies this combination of technological innovation and our consciousness,’ the duo explain. The swarming, ethereal sculpture – a hybrid of technology and art – will be accompanied by a performance from band Duran Duran, and more cosmically, a full moon.

As artists and experimenters, Studio Drift continue to unlock more possibilities for the future of design, and their spellbinding offerings are just the tip of the iceberg – ‘it is our responsibility to use technology to build a sustainable future,’ they comment. ‘Humans are inseparably connected with technology, we’re just not using it in the right way yet

Franchise Freedom by Studio Drift

Franchise Freedom by Studio Drift at Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert

(Image credit: TBC)


Franchise Freedom, 16 July, Kennedy Space Center.

Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.