Metahaven was founded in 2007 by Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden. They began their collaboration with a speculative visual identity they designed for the Principality of Sealand, an unrecognized mini-state on a former military structure in the North Sea that tried to reinvent itself as an internet hosting platform. The Sealand case study led the way into Metahaven’s Uncorporate Identity (Lars Müller Publishers, 2015), a book that, according to New York Times critic Alice Rawsthorn, “questions the purpose and value of design in a neurotic and treacherous era of geopolitical instability.” Its successor Can Jokes Bring Down Governments? (Strelka Press, 2013) examines internet memes as a contemporary tactics of political protest. Metahaven notably hit the press in 2011 and 2012 when they created a collection of scarves and T-shirts in support of WikiLeaks.
Their new publication, Black Transparency (Sternberg Press, 2015), includes essays on political transparency and planetary-scale computation, while also including a selection of their visual work from 2010 through 2013. Metahaven’s sustained interest in the cutting blade between politics and aesthetics brought it to collaborate with Independent Diplomat, a New York City–based organization, and IMMI, an Icelandic NGO for progressive politics and the Internet and to extensively collaborate with electronic musician Holly Herndon, producing music videos for Home (2014) and Interference (2015). In 2014 Metahaven’s short film City Rising (2014) included the futuristic city models of Constant’s New Babylon. In 2013 Metahaven was awarded the Cobra Art Prize and named Design Studio of the Year by ICON magazine. Their work has been featured in publications such as 032C, frieze, e-flux journal, New York Times Magazine, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Libération, and Paper. Their work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, the V&A, Gwangju Design Biennial, Artists Space, among others.