The work Hylozoic Ground by Canadian architect and artist Philip Beesley provided van Herpen with the inspiration for the Hybrid Holism collection. The title was derived from the term “hylozoism,” which refers to the belief that all matter around us is alive. Beesley’s responsive installations suggest that a future city could operate as a living being; “we are working with subtle materials, electricity and chemistry, weaving together interactions that at first create an architecture that simulates life but increasingly these interactions are starting to act like life”. His environments breathe, shift and move in relationship to people walking through it, touching it, and sensing it. Microprocessors invest that environment with a primitive or insect-like intelligence like a coral reef or a great swarm. Beesley collaborates with people from many different disciplines, including Rachel Armstrong, an experimental chemist who works with synthetic biology.
Inspired by metabolic, environment-sensitive and semi-alive materials, van Herpen translated her ideas about the future into a highly complex and diverse collection that combined diligent craftsmanship and high tech, implying a future of fashion that takes on quite unimaginable shapes that are partly 'alive'. Instead of discarding fashion after use, we cherish, value, and maintain it in its abilities to change and evolve throughout time. For the ‘Symbiosis dress’ Van Herpen created a translucent dress structure, that marries the architectural with the arboreal, introducing a 3-D printing technique referred to as mammoth stereolithography in collaboration with architect Julia Koerner. This 3D printing technique built slice by slice from bottom to top, in a vessel of polymer liquid that hardens when struck by a laser beam. The collection proposes the idea that the system in which clothes and objects become obsolete increasingly rapidly could be replaced by a more evolutive fashion.