The recipe for this art display includes a dash of intrigue, a measure of intelligence and a full serving of “WOW” factor. LOTUS is a nature-inspired smart material that mirrors how flowers act when greeted by the sun

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A man standing by a dome art structure in a cave

The story of LOTUS begins in 2010 with curiosity and a deep dive into smart materials. The design team at Studio Roosegaarde was looking for a material that not only looked like something that came from nature, but actually responds to stimuli in real time. 

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A spiky ball with cut outs in hexagonal shapes building it

With that, the LOTUS family of smart flowers was born. In the past decade, the assorted art installations have changed in scope and shape, yet all are LOTUS flowers that open in response to light. LOTUS OCULUS is the most recent release.

A person touching a dome structure that has multiple cutouts

“LOTUS OCULUS pays homage to the grandeur of the Pantheon and continues this legacy by creating an organic architecture of movement and shadows,” the artists comment. “This dynamic dialogue is what Daan Roosegaarde calls ‘Techno-Poetry.’”

A person touching a display of diamond shaped cut outs

It’s easy to see why. When you view the art in motion, it seems to breathe in the atmosphere around it. Upon closer inspection, it becomes obvious the larger form is actually composed of many smaller panels of the material, each of which curls into a flower shape when stimulated.  

A person pointing a finger at a gold wall that is designed with multiple holes

Taking a step back, the entire exhibit comes to life as the parts fold and unfold in response to the changing environment. The result is an interplay of light and movement throughout the space. LOTUS OCULUS was commissioned by Bulgari and was placed in the Modern Art Gallery in Milan. The unique and interactive design was awarded the A’Design Gold Award and Media Architecture Award Denmark.

A person watching a dome structure lit with light inside of it

The material takes a different shape as LOTUS Maffei, which is part of the permanent art collection of Palazzo Maffei Museum in Verona, Italy. That’s no small cast credit in the company of notable works by Lucio Fontana, Pablo Picasso and Gerrit Rietveld. 

People walking by and touching the light-up dome structure

In a focal point for the 17th-century Sainte Marie Madeleine Church in Lille, France, the material was shaped for what is known as the LOTUS DOME. ​This striking exhibition draws the visitor in, enticing them to move around the dome, bringing the LOTUS petals to life in the process. 

Two hands on the side of a glowing art work

Roosegaarde describes this tangible connection between light and material as “a metamorphosis of nature and technology. In search of a new harmony between people and the environment, LOTUS is a work of art and a pilot for a more organic architecture.”

+ Studio Roosegaarde

Images via Daan Roosegaarde