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photo: Jean-Baptiste Mondino +

Iris van Herpen wins Witteveen+Bos Art+Technology Award 2016


The Witteveen+Bos Art+Technology Award 2016 will be presented to Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen. Ms Van Herpen (born 1984, Wamel, the Netherlands) is an artist active in the fashion industry whose works are of great innovative and sculptural value. Her artistic work combines technical innovation with traditional craftsmanship and has had considerable impact in her field. Van Herpen will receive the prize during a ceremony to be held on Thursday 3 November 2016 in the Bergkerk Church in Deventer. The award ceremony also marks the opening of IRIS VAN HERPEN – METABOLIC, a unique solo exhibition that Van Herpen will put together especially for this occasion.

Iris van Herpen studied fashion at ArtEZ University of the Arts in Arnhem, the Netherlands, and has worked with Alexander McQueen and Claudy Jongstra. She started her own label in 2007, producing ready-to-wear collections as well as haute couture. Van Herpen develops her collections in a highly interdisciplinary manner, working together with professors, researchers, (bio) technologists, designers, architects and artists. The themes in her work are often inspired by the world of science. For Micro (2012) she used images produced by an electron microscope and explored the world of micro-organisms, while Radiation Invasion (2009) focused on the role that electromagnetic radiation plays in our daily lives. Iris van Herpen has been a member of the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture since 2011. Her creations have been worn by stars like Björk, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Tilda Swinton, and have been included in various museum collections. The work of Van Herpen is widely acknowledged. Earlier this year she received the Cultuurfonds Fashion Grant and more recently the Eurpean Union’s STARTS Prize.


This is the first time in its 15-year history that the Art+Technology Award will be presented to an artist working in fashion. However, the work of Van Herpen offers so many fascinating examples of the non-instrumental application of technology in art that the jury unanimously decided to nominate her. Fashion is of major significance in our society and plays a dominant role in our visual culture. It is also an industry with many abuses in its production processes, ranging from environmental pollution to poor working conditions. It therefore comes as no surprise that technological innovation plays a key role in experimental couture. In ten years’ time, it could very well be common practice to print clothing at home using a 3D printer – in your own style, fitted to your measurements, and using sustainable raw materials. In this context, Van Herpen’s research into new materials is a potential game changer. In the words of prominent Vogue fashion journalist Suzy Menkes following Van Herpen’s most recent show ‘Seijaku’ in Paris: ‘Iris is the only designer in haute couture who is truly innovative.’


Witteveen+Bos Managing Director Karin Sluis is proud to present the Art+Technology Award to Iris van Herpen on 3 November. ‘With this award, we want to emphasise the importance of creativity for innovation. The inspiring way in which Iris pursues innovation in fashion by developing new materials, applying a cross-over approach and engaging in multidisciplinary collaboration makes her the well-deserved fifteenth winner of the Art+Technology Award. She combines craftsmanship and technology in her creative process, constantly searching for their dialogue, making her work unique and pioneering. Her innovations make an important contribution to a more sustainable fashion industry. Iris’s creations are wonderful works of art that are often displayed in museums after a spectacular fashion show. We are very much looking forward to the METABOLIC exhibition that she will put together in the Bergkerk Church in November of this year.’