Swarovski Crystal Palace exhibition, which runs during the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan from April 14-19, 2010, will feature five international designers: Tokujin Yoshioka from Tokyo, French-born, Tokyo-based Gwenaël Nicolas, Belgian architect Vincent van Duysen, Dutch architectural lighting designer Rogier van der Heide and Swiss-born, San-Francisco-based designer Yves Béhar have each created strikingly different concepts.
“Swarovski Crystal Palace is a platform for creative expression and experimentation with innovation and technology,” said Nadja Swarovski, Vice President of International Communications. “Our designer collaborations not only push the boundaries of the designers’ own work but also of the use of Swarovski crystal in an artistic, decorative and functional way.”
The exhibition will be curated by Jules Wright, founder of the The Wapping Project. With her background in theatre, Wright will plan a mise-en-scène that will bring to dramatic life the different designers’ works while revealing the extraordinary versatility of Swarovski crystals.
Each designer’s creation will be showcased in a separate room, and for the first time color will be introduced to the backdrop of each piece to celebrate the refractive nature of the crystal. “Every space will focus the eyes on the specific object and the environments will contextualize each piece in a theatrical way,” Wright explains.
The guiding theme for the setting of each room, has been inspired by the idea of different types of palace – from Versailles with its hall of mirrors, to Japan with its Zen aesthetic, to the Winter Palace in St Petersburg. As visitors move through the exhibition, they will engage on a journey through the different worlds and environments conjured by the designs and contextualization. The journey will culminate in a final room celebrating some of the staggeringly inventive concepts created by the world’s most innovative designers for Swarovski Crystal Palace over the last 8 years.
Visitors will enter the exhibition through a room dedicated to Tokujin Yoshioka’s design. For Swarovski Crystal Palace he has created an installation, which will consist of a vast 1m diameter globe encrusted with Swarovski crystals and lit from within by LEDs. An accompanying piece will feature another globe suspended in a vast tank, on which crystals will be growing naturally. The design is an evolution of Yoshioka’s 2007 work entitled “VENUS – Natural crystal chair” in which the chair – like Venus – emerged from the ‘water’ as the crystals naturally grew on its frame.
“What is important to me is not just designing another new chandelier with crystal, but to create a star which shines in the viewer’s heart,” Yoshioka explains. His approach was to, “incorporate the element of beauty born of coincidence,” into his piece, adding that, “it was technically challenging because the unpredictable element found in nature had to be accurately expressed by human design.”
“I wanted to imagine a space with no gravity,” Gwenaël Nicolas explains of his project, which consists of two separate designs. The first item is almost, “not an object anymore,” where, “crystal and light become life.” Nicolas has created a large, free-floating, transparent balloon filled with helium, inside which floats a small crystal sculpture lit from within by battery powered LED. The balloon, which measures 2.4m in diameter, draws on NASA technology to enable it to be as thin and transparent as possible. The LED light emanating through the crystal within sets off a series of ‘sparks’ which move as the balloon and crystal gently float through the room.
A separate design consists of a 10m long string of crystal incorporating LED lighting that is programmed to set off more ‘sparks’ which jump along the length of the rope. The viewer will therefore not necessarily notice the rope per se but be more aware of the movement of light along an axis through the room.
Vincent Van Duysen has created a highly versatile glowing ‘stick’ encrusted with Swarovski crystals. The design can either be used on its own – suspended above a table for example or leant against the corner of a room – or joined together as modular elements to create dramatic architectural shapes. The elements will come in three different widths – from 6cm to 16cm – and three different lengths, from 140cm to 220cm. The surface of each bar features a ‘crust’ of randomly assorted, different sized crystals set into resin. Sandwiched between the crystal exteriors is a thin glass panel which gives the ‘sticks’ their structure and rigidity while also acting as a vehicle for the LED lighting within.
The installation is an interpretation of the crystals’ purest, most intrisic features: how they spark our imagination, and make our dreams come true. The installation relies on the natural beauty of the crystals and has the magic of Northern Light.
Rogier Van der Heide comments: “I present Swarovski Crystal Palace in Milan as a dreamy cloud of crystals, a three-dimensional sculpture that expresses the natural, magical, imaginative and beautiful. “Dream Cloud” consists out of thousands, pure, untreated small crystals, floating in the air, transforming a black space by giving it a point of gravity: the epicentre of the visitor’s attention. And on the floor, moving clouds form a surreal, magical carpet. Guests wander through and realise that Swarovski elevates them above the clouds, where the shimmering crystals, bathing in cool blue moonlight, make a dream come true.”
Guests wander through a magical landscape: below them, clouds are moving by, above them, the shimmering quality of the crystals, lit with narrow beams of moonlight.
Yves Béhar has managed to combine the possibilities of technology with the inherent qualities of Swarovski crystal to create a beautiful yet surprisingly affordable lighting arrangement, which consists of a series of deceptively simple ‘paper lanterns’ shaped like crystals, within which light is refracted from a real crystal, casting its patterns on the surface of the paper.
Béhar’s design was created with a focus on sustainability and affordability, featuring a faceted shade made from recycled materials, one crystal and one low-energy consuming LED light. The design features 6 different crystalline shapes in varying sizes, which can either be used individually or clustered together to striking effect.