Lace has always played an important role in Dutch culture and art. Think of the painter Vermeer’s “The Lacemaker,” or other works of the time depicting women in traditional lace bonnets.
So when the design team Jin Choi and Thomas Shine of Amsterdam-based Choi+Shine Architects was asked to create a piece for the 2016 Amsterdam Light Festival, they looked to this iconic cultural reference for inspiration.
The Lace, a 32-foot by 49-foot installation, was suspended in tension over the Herengracht Canal near the Royal Palace with polyester cables fastened to trees and lampposts. It consisted of 18 rectangular panels and 32 triangular panels crocheted the old-fashioned way—by hand using classical patterns. The piece required about 14 miles of 5.0mm UV-protected double-braided polyester cord. It weighed about 650 pounds.
To prevent The Lace from stretching and deforming once suspended, the panel was placed over a very thin but strong net made from Dyneema® twine.
Despite its delicate appearance, The Lace was strong and weatherproof, capable of supporting ice loads. In a nod to the bonnet, it formed a somewhat cap-like enclosure that also created a sense of weightlessness as it projected unique patterns across the sky and water.
It was illuminated using multiple light sources on the top and underside to create a filigreed glow. Visitors could enjoy the display from the street and on canal boat tours. The piece was designed to be recycled at the end of its life.