Berndnaut Smilde’s Incredible Indoor Clouds

Published March 17, 2014
Updated February 28, 2018

Imagine working numerous hours to accumulate the perfect combination of both moisture and dust. Eventually, a faint white fog forms, and you snap a photo of the pale indoor cloud. Moments later, the formation is gone, and you’re left in an empty room. Although meticulous and drawn out, this is life for Berndnaut Smilde, the brilliant artist who is well known for his stunning indoor cloud formations.

Berndnaut Smilde was born in 1978 in the Netherlands, and now lives and creates art in Amsterdam. As an artist, he is interested in impermanent states of being, a theme that resurfaces in much of his work. While Smilde’s indoor clouds look as fluffy and white as those you see perennially dusting the sky, in reality, they last just mere seconds. Few people have had the pleasure of seeing Smilde create the indoor clouds, though many individuals have borne witness to his stunning photos.

Berndnaut Smilde’s formed his first indoor cloud—displayed as an installation named “Nimbus”—in a bright blue room that evoked summer skies. Smilde’s desire to use clouds as an art medium, particularly indoor clouds, comes from his interest in how they can temporarily change a space.

To create the indoor clouds, Smilde must maintain a specific temperature that’s warm enough to condense dust particles, yet cold enough to keep water vapor from fully condensing into rain. Smilde also maintains a specific moisture level.

Here’s a video of Smilde in action:

While Smilde has received generous praise worldwide for his incredible indoor clouds, he’s also created numerous installations, sculptures and photographs that have nothing to do with cloud formations. Smilde has exhibited his various artwork over most of Europe.

Kiri Picone
Kiri Picone holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from Pepperdine University and has been writing for various digital publishers for more than 10 years.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.