Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Top Designers Create New Collections for Atelier Swarovski Home

Yael Mer & Shay Alkalay of Raw Edges play with a crystal ball at their studio in London. It is the award-winning designers first collaboration with Swarovski. Cover picture of Ron Arad at his studio in London, working on the Alphabet & Letters collection.
The world's leading designers including Ron Arad, Daniel Libeskind and the late Zaha Hadid have created glimmering, crystalline pieces for the new Atelier Swarovski Home collection launched for the first time in Milan at Palazzo Cagnola during the Salone del Mobile, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Additional reporting by Andrea Molteni 

Nadja Swarovski at Daniel Libeskind's studio 
THE most spectacular and avant-garde exhibitions held during Milan Design Week, in the past ten years, were the Swarovski Crystal Palace shows. Often exhilarating and inspiring, the shows aimed to demonstrate the beauty and creative potential of crystal as a material, utilising the artistic expression of different designers. Each year, Nadja Swarovski commissioned dramatic installations from leading international and emerging designers such as Marcel Wanders, Tokujin Yoshioka, Fredrikson Stallard, Ron Arad, Studio Job, Zaha Hadid, Jurgen Bey, Naoto Fukasawa, Ross Lovegrove and Gaetano Pesce. The Crystal Palace exhibitions showed cutting edge design that merged art, science and technology to form sculptural pieces, art objects and architectural installations.

Nadja Swarovski at the launch in Milan 
This year, putting all of that experimentation to practical use, the company launched the luxe Atelier Swarovski Home collection at the beautiful Palazzo Cagnola in Milan. The company worked with designers, many of whom have already collaborated with Swarovski on the Crystal Palace shows or other design projects. “We are delighted to be collaborating once again with so many incredible creative talents on these beautiful objects for the home,” says Nadja Swarovski. “This is a natural evolution for Atelier Swarovski and a great opportunity to showcase the art of crystal cutting in a range of designs and forms.” These new designs include bold pieces by Fredrikson Stallard, Aldo Bakker, Ron Arad, Tord Boontje, Kim Thomé, Yael Mer, Shay Alkalay and the late Zaha Hadid. The designers have used a mix of materials such as marble, metals and resins which are combined with crystal. New technologies developed by Swarovski are also used by the designers including laser-printing on crystal and a technique combining computer technology and mechanical engineering to cut curved forms in crystal. The Atelier Swarovski Home collections will have prices ranging from €250 to €20,000 and will be available later in the European autumn.

 Ron Arad with his new collection in Milan
Iconoclastic designer Ron Arad was part of the Crystal Palace initiative and some of his most innovative creations have been for Swarovski. For the new home accessories collection, he has designed Alphabet & Numbers, a collection of sparkling crystal digits, letters plus glistening bookends. Arad designed a new font for the project, creating curvaceous numerals and the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. The pieces are precision-cut and stand either 22cm or 13.5cm tall with Arad utilizing the purity of crystal for the designs. An industrial designer, architect and artist, Arad studied first at the Jerusalem Academy of Art before attending London's Architectural Association. He opened his studio in London in 1981 and has a wide ranging body of influential work from limited editions pieces and products for top design companies to public art works and architecture. He has been Professor of Design Product at the Royal College of Art and was elected a Royal Academician in 2013.

Nadja Swarovski at Daniel Libeskind's studio
For his first collaboration with Swarovski, architect Daniel Libeskind designed a championship‐size chess set, with pieces that are abstract versions of his most well-known buildings. While the board shows maps of Milan and NewYork, the two cities where he lives and works. The set uses materials from the world of construction such as
concrete, marble and aluminium as well as silver and crystal. The chess piece Kings are represented by the Freedom Tower in New York while the Queen is depicted as the City Life building in Milan. Both the King and Queen pieces are in crystal, the Bishop is in silver in the form of the L tower in Toronto, the Knight in dark marble, shaped like the Tor Di Valle in Rome. The Rook, made in concrete represents the Century Spire in Manila and the aluminium Pawn is the Pyramid in Jerusalem. The Polish born, American architect first came to prominence for his design for the Jewish Museum that opened in Berlin in 2001. Two years later his studio won the competition to rebuild the the World Trade centre in New York.

 Patrik Fredrikson & Ian Stallard with Iris 2011
Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard's Glaciarium collection is outstanding for its strong, abstract forms that reflect the natural, rocky shapes of crystal. There are glinting, organic candle holders, vases and bowls that are inspired by raw crystal yet created by special cutting techniques that enhance the material’s natural structure. Previous collaborations with Swarovski by the designers range from the enormous sculpture Prologue, four meters in diameter and inset with 8,000 crystals, to the Armory jewellery collection for Atelier Swarovski 2016.
Raw, abstract designs
Today, leaders of British avant-garde design, both Fredrikson and Stallard originally studied at Central St Martins College before beginning their collaboration in 1995 and opening their studio in London. Their work has been acquired by musuems including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the French National Art Collection, and has beeen shown at the Design Museum in London, MoMA and the Museum of Art and Design in New York. Fredrikson Stallard have also won awards, including the Red Dot Design Award and The Arts Foundation Furniture Design Fellowship, a competition held every 10 years.

Called Luxe Orbit, Tord Boontje's collection forms a group of glittering, curvaceous pieces sprinkled with sparkling crystals. The designer was inspired by patterns in nature, the cosmos, star formations and science fiction. “I see the crystals as small pieces of light and points of colour," says Boontje. "I imagine they could come from the other side of space or from the future." Scattered over the polished surfaces of ovals and
Tord Boontje at work at his London Studio
spheres, glinting crystals give the designs a futuristic yet romantic aesthetic. The collection includes lanterns, wine coolers, bowls and a caviar set in glass, Corian and crystal. Boontje began collaborating with Swarovski in 2002, and his signature fluid forms derived from nature can be found in work ranging from the luminescent cherry branch Blossom, to the Stellar Doma pendant light, a celebration of the night sky. The Dutch designer set up his studio in London in 1996, and has since created products including lighting, textiles, ceramics and furniture for some of the world's best design companies.

Kim Thome with his Plinth candle-holders
Kim Thomé collaborated with Swarovski last year, designing an 18 metre tall sculpture called Zotem at the Victoria &Albert Museum, created with more than 600 bespoke crystals. For the new homewares collection he's designed Plinth, a collection of candle-holders with a stainless steel base and a halo of crystal above. The Donuts series are palm-sized candle holders made of crystals, each with a different, jewel-coloured hue. The Norwegian-born Thomé is a talented young designer who graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2012 and now runs his own studio in London.

Tomas Alonso at his studio in London
Spanish designer Tomás Alonso's new work follows the series he showed with Swarovski at Design Miami/Basel in 2015. Called Prism, his latest home collection encompasses colourful trays, centrepieces and bowls with brilliant, faceted crystals.The pieces are made from both crystal and marble prisms that are bonded together. The combination of colour and precisely-cut angles produces varied plays of light and colour. After 10 years working and studying in the USA, Australia and Italy, Tomás Alonso went to London to do a Master's at the Royal College of Art and has run his own design studio there since 2007. He won the Swarovski Designers of the Future Award in 2015.

Aldo Bakker at his studio in Amsterdam
Designing for the first time for Swarovski, Aldo Bakker has created a collection of modular vases in marble and crystal, with strong compact forms that are like crystalline jewellery boxes. The base of the vases acts as a shallow water pool while the sides are made of three interconnecting elements in either faceted marble or crystal, creating a varied play of light. Both ambiguous and abstract, the engaging designs play on one part fits with another. Aldo Bakker was born in the Netherlands and first trained as a silversmith, working to commission, and setting up his own studio in 1994. His father, designer Gijs Bakker, was one of the influential founders of Droog. Although Aldo hadn't initally wanted to be a designer, he eventually moved into furniture and product design, winning awards for his collections of glass and porcelain tableware. Today, he also teaches at the Design Academy at Eindhoven in the Netherlands.


Shay Alkalay & Yael Mer design their collection
Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay of the award winning Raw Edges studio, created a collection of bowls and vases for their first collaboration with Swarovski. The designers used a new laser-jet, crystal printing technique to decorate their design of intersecting, crystals. Prints on the interior of the pieces produce colourful patterns on the different facets of the crystal. The reflections and different hues create an intriguing play of light. Mer and Alkalay were both born in Tel Aviv and studied at the Royal College of Art in London under Ron Arad. In 2007, they set up their own studio in London, designing furniture, products and installations including commissions for Cappellini, Established & Sons, and Stella McCartney among others.

Nadja Swarovski with Zaha Hadid's Crista
Architect Zaha Hadid, who died suddenly last month, worked with Nadja Swarovski extensively in the past decade including projects such as the spiralling light installations at Salone del Mobile in 2008, to the sculptural jewellery collection Glace for Atelier Swarovski two years later. For the new home collection, Hadid designed an imposing centrepiece in crystal and metal called Crista. Taking as its starting point an investigation into the process of crystallization occurring in nature, the design also uses Swarovski’s innovative technology for cutting curves into crystal. Hadid originally founded her practice in London in 1979 and became one of the most influential and innovative architects in the world, winning many awards for her work, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Click or scroll through photographs to see the designers' work in their studios.
Shay Alkalay and Yael Mer at their North London studio at work on their new collection for Swarovski.

The designers test out different colours for the crystal bowls and centre pieces
This is the first time Swarovski have used a new technique to print directly on to crystal prisms, after the designers have designed the pattern.
The designers with their finished collection exhibited at Milan's Palazzo Cagnola
Colourful crystals help to inspire the jewel-like colours of Norwegian designer Kim Thome's collection
 The designer works at his London studio creating a series of steel and crystal candle holders. Kim Thomé first collaborated with Swarovski last year, designing an 18 metre tall sculpture called Zotem at the Victoria &Albert Museum, created with more than 600 bespoke crystals.

 For the new homewares collection Thome's designed Plinth, a collection of candle-holders with a stainless steel base and a halo of crystal above.
 Kim Thome's finished Plinth and Donut collection. The Donut series are palm-sized candle holders made of crystals, each with a different, jewel-coloured hue.

Exhibited at the Palazzo Cagnola in Milan, Kim Thome's new crystal and steel candle holders
 Designer Tord Boontje at his London studio in Shoreditch
The designer works on sketches for his Luxe Orbit collection inspired by the night sky.“I see the crystals as small pieces of light and points of colour," says Boontje. "I imagine they could come from the other side of space or from the future."
Crystals and drawings for the new Tord Boontje range for Swarovski
Tord Boontje's renderings and drawings preparing for the new collection.
Shown in Milan, during the Salone Del Mobil, Boontje's finished Luxe Orbit collection
Spanish designer Tomas Alonso at his studio in London working on his colourful, prism-like collection
Tomas Alonso's drawings with the crystal and marble he will use in his designs
Like gleaming jewels, the collection by Tomas Alonso shown during Milan Design Week
Designers Patrik Fredrikson & Ian Stallard have already worked with Swarovski on vast projects from their Prologue installation to smaller pieces such as the Amory jewellery collection.
Fredrikson Stallard's Glaciarium collection is outstanding for its strong, abstract forms that reflect the natural, rocky shapes of crystal.
There are glinting, organic candle holders, vases and bowls that are inspired by raw crystal yet created by special cutting techniques that enhance the material’s natural structure. 
Designer Aldo Bakker at his Amsterdam studio with shelves of models behind him
 Aldo Bakker was born in the Netherlands and first trained as a silversmith, working to commission, and setting up his own studio in 1994. His father, designer Gijs Bakker, was one of the influential founders of Droog.
Designing for the first time for Swarovski, Aldo Bakker has created a collection of modular vases in marble and crystal, with strong compact forms that are like crystalline jewellery boxes.
The base of the vases acts as a shallow water pool while the sides are made of three interconnecting elements in either faceted marble or crystal, creating a varied play of light.
Both ambiguous and abstract, the engaging designs by Aldo Bakker are intriguing, working out how one part fits with another.
 For his first collaboration with Swarovski, architect Daniel Libeskind designed a championship‐size chess set, with pieces that are abstract versions of his most well-known buildings.
The chess piece Kings are represented by the Freedom Tower in New York while the Queen is depicted as the City Life building in Milan.
Both the King and Queen pieces are in crystal, the Bishop is in silver in the form of the L tower in Toronto, the Knight in dark marble and shaped like the Tor Di Valle in Rome.
The chess set uses materials from the world of construction such as concrete, marble and aluminium as well as silver and crystal.
Daniel Libeskind's chess board shows maps of Milan and NewYork, the two cities where he lives and works.
For his new home accessories collection, Ron Arad designed Alphabet & Numbers, a range of sparkling crystal digits, letters plus glistening bookends.

Arad designed a new font for the project, creating curvaceous numerals and the twenty-six letters of the alphabet.

The pieces are precision-cut and stand either 22cm or 13.5cm tall with Arad utilizing the purity of crystal for the designs. 
Ron Arad was part of the Crystal Palace initiative and some of his most innovative creations have been for Swarovski.

For Atelier Swarovski's new home collection, the late Zaha Hadid designed an imposing centrepiece in crystal and metal called Crista
Taking as its starting point an investigation into the process of crystallization occurring in nature, Hadid's design also uses Swarovski’s innovative technology for cutting crystal.
The Atelier Swarovski Home collection exhibited at the beautiful Palazzo Cagnola in Milan.


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