Dezeen and MINI World Tour: in this movie filmed at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, artist Gijs van Bon shows us his machine called Skryf, which prints a trail of sand behind it to form letters on the ground. 

Skryf sand writer by Gijs van Bon
Skryf sand writer by Gijs van Bon

Skryf consists of an adapted CNC milling machine on wheels, which van Bon controls with a laptop via a simple piece of software he developed.

"I can just type in text and it converts it to a code that the machine accepts," he explains. "It writes letter by letter and in the four hours that I write per day it will write about 160 metres."

Skryf sand writer by Gijs van Bon

Van Bon travels to different festivals around the world with Skryf and chooses new pieces of literature to write on the ground in each place.

"I've been with Skryf throughout Europe and once to Australia," he explains. "In Eindhoven, I'm writing the poems of Merel Morre. She is the city poet of Eindhoven; she reflects on what is happening now in the city."

Skryf sand writer by Gijs van Bon

Skryf's carefully-written lines of poetry are destroyed by passersby or the wind almost as quickly as it can write them. Van Bon says that the whole idea behind the project is that the lines of poetry exist only momentarily.

"When you're writing one [line of] text, another one is going away because people start walking through it," he explains. "Once I've finished writing, I walk the same way back but it's all destroyed. It's ephemeral, it's just for this moment and afterwards it's left to the public and to the wind."

Gijs van Bon
Gijs van Bon. Copyright: Dezeen

We drove around Eindhoven in our MINI Cooper S Paceman. The music in the movie is a track called Family Music by Eindhoven-based hip hop producer Y'Skid.

You can listen to more music by Y'Skid on Dezeen Music Project and watch more of our Dezeen and MINI World Tour movies here.

Dezeen's MINI Paceman at Strijp-S, Eindhoven
Our MINI Paceman in Eindhoven
  • Peter

    Much to like about this project. I’d get Borris to buy a couple of these to trawl up and down the Southbank or across Trafalgar sq. Probably choose Betjeman or Larkin as input. Or a Kureishi short story.

  • kwil

    Great stuff!

  • Having solved most of their first world problems, the Dutch could finally relax at their weekend summer techno parties, safe in the knowledge they could now write words with sand.

  • james

    Unconsciously designed to write Shel Silverstein poems. Unfortunately unusable where the sidewalk ends.

  • amsam

    The machine is itself a poem.

  • JJK

    Nicholas Hanna did this better with water, years ago.

    • Simon Gerssen

      Let them drive next to each other, bring the beach and sea to the city.

  • dan

    I like the project and of course there are differences but I think it’s only right to give a nod to Julius Popp here:

  • H-J

    And it’s 4D-printed!

  • d

    Inspired by Nicholas Hanna’s Water calligraphy tricycle?

  • cisum

    I yawned so hard my mouth won’t close anymore.

  • Revel Systems

    Reminds me of the Nike Livestrong printer during the Tour de France.


  • peter bessey

    Another poetic Dutch construction. It reminds me, in some ways, of Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest beach wind-walkers.

    I just wonder if this could be combined with them and, wind-driven, walk those beaches leaving poetry in its path?