Swarovski Crystal has tapped Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind to design the star topper for this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, marking the first new star from Swarovski since 2004. While scant few details of Libeskind’s design have been revealed yet (the star won’t be unveiled until November), the installation will be massive. Weighing in at around 800 pounds of crystal, the three-dimensional installation will emanate light from within in an astronomically-inspired touch. Libeskind’s canon of work is well known for dramatic lines, twisting geometries, and jutting angles, making him a natural fit for both the material as well as the inherently angled shape of the star. From the sketches released so far, it appears that the new star will radiate long, thin shards from a central point in all directions; the current tree topper is a flat, bedazzled take on the more traditional five-pointed star. “The new Swarovski Star for the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is inspired by the beauty of starlight,” said Libeskind in a statement, “something that radiates meaning and mystery into the world. The Star is a symbol that represents our greatest ambitions for hope, unity and peace. I am tremendously honored to collaborate with Swarovski on the Star, and with the entire design team, to bring cutting-edge innovation and design to crystal technology.” This isn’t the first time that Libeskind has collaborated with the luxury crystal company. The architect completed a Swarovski chess set in 2016, designing pieces that resemble famous architectural forms. The set blends typical construction materials–marble and concrete–with lux silver and Swarovski crystal for the higher ranking pieces and trim for the board itself.
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Swarovski has completed work on its 2017 Swarovski Designers of the Future Award installation featuring design contributions from designers Jimenez Lai, Marjan van Aubel, and TAKT PROJECT for this year’s Design Miami / Basel expositions. Each of the award winner’s contribution to the group installation utilizes Swarovski’s namesake crystals as a way of generating innovative applications of new technologies. van Aubel’s installation, a “future cyanometer,” uses Swarovski crystals and sunlight to power a blue light. TAKT PROJECT utilizes 3D-printed crystals to make tabletop objects while Lai’s installation repurposes rejected Swarovski crystals as slag for a series of geometric terrazzo volumes. In a press release announcing the installation, Lai said, “design for me is all about telling stories. Being able to truly understand the rich history of Swarovski through my visit to Wattens was crucial to creating an installation that reaches both back in time, but also into our future. Second quality crystals are an entirely new material for us to work with, and we’re delighted to have been able to create an innovative surface that sparkles and shines to bring the outside in.” The recipients were commissioned to create these installations as a part of the 2017 Design Miami / Basel expositions and are being displayed collectively. The installation debuted in Basel, Switzerland earlier this week and will be on view through June 18th, 2017.
Swarovski and Design Miami/ have named designers Jimenez Lai, Marjan van Aubel and TAKT PROJECT as the winners of the 2017 Swarovski Designers of the Future Award. The award, according to a press release, will help the designers advance innovative projects within their individual fields with the aim of developing a “new prototype or design statement that is inspired or informed by crystal.” The recipients have been commissioned to create new work for exhibition at the 2017 Design Miami / Basel art showcase occurring later this year in Switzerland. Though each of the winners will work on a separate project, the works of all three designers will be exhibited in a singular installation generally focused around the uses of new technologies. Los Angeles-based Lai—founder of design firm Bureau Spectacular—will focus on exploring design through storytelling in order to create a surface-based installation. Lai will also strive to create an overall architectural character for the installation. In the press release, Lai said, “I’m excited to bring an architectural perspective to this year’s installation. Working with crystal is a stimulating new challenge as it creates a visual quality that is unlike most other materials designers normally use.” Lai referred his project as a "terrazzo palazzo" at an awards lunch, saying, "I mapped out how much time I spent on various activities throughout the day—eating, sleeping, sitting, etc.—and translated that amount of time into proportions for the design. So, for example, since the vast majority of my time is spent sitting, the majority of the structure can be used for sitting." Lai added that he would re-use the imperfect Swarovski crystals sorted out of production during quality control inspections for his palazzo, saying, "If we think about 'reduce, reuse, recycle,' it actually costs more energy to recycle than reuse. With that in mind, I wanted to take the crystals that were not selected and make a terrazzo. It's a very malleable architectural product." Tokyo-based TAKT PROJECT will partner with glass 3D-printing company MICRON3DP to produce tabletop objects made of 3D-printed Swarovski crystals. When describing the project, Satoshi Yoshiizuofmi of TAKT PROJECT focused on the innovative aspects of the work, saying, "It's a completely new technology, so the process is very exciting and very experimental." And London-based Marjan van Aubel will develop so-called “living light objects” in collaboration with Swarovski’s in-house solar technology experts. At the same awards lunch, van Aubel said, "We are going to take the light from the sky and bring it inside using solar crystals. As a designer, I am really interested in using solar technology and making it more aesthetically pleasing and more integrated." For more information on 2017 Design Miami / Basel, see the showcase website.
This month's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) brought more than 170,000 attendees to visit over 3,600 exhibitors. Navigating a sea of similar tech products may seem overwhelming, but there are a few products to note within the realms of smart home technology, 3D printing, and electronics to improve one’s health. House of the Future Nearly a Reality Still no self-cleaning floors, but a Jetson-like future is not far off with systems like Vivint, which syncs most of the controls in your home to your smartphone. Not only do these systems offer doorbell and ping security cameras that include two-way talk, you can also control the garage door, lighting, temperature, and DVR remotely. The newest addition to the Vivant family is the integration of Kwikset Smart Locks, the Nest Learning Thermostat, and the Amazon Echo. To keep things clean top to bottom, WINBOT is a new robot that cleans framed and frameless windows as well as horizontal glass surfaces and mirrors. All you have to do is spritz the cleaning pad, switch it on, and place it on the window. The bot does the rest by automatically scanning and calculating the size of the window or surface. Samsung debuted the Family Hub Refrigerator that brings a bunch of sci-fi tech to real life. With a 21.5-inch HD LCD display on the exterior, you can post family photos and calendars as well as stream music and watch live TV; so you never have to miss a moment of the big game or award show while refilling on snacks. One of the most impressive features is the set of three interior cameras that take photos every time the door is closed. Next time you are at the grocery store and can’t remember if you are out of milk, just peer inside the fridge from your smartphone screen. Skydrop, the new smart sprinkler controller, monitors local weather data and automatically sets the perfect time and amount of water its yard receives. The system can reduce water usage by 50 percent, which saves money while aiding the environment. Let’s Get Physical Knowing how many steps walked or calories burned in a day is so yesterday. With iHealth’s collection of medical-tech accessories, users can monitor every aspect of their health including blood pressure, glucose levels; weight and BMI; sleep, and blood oxygen levels. With the MyVitals app all data can be viewed in one place and easily shared. Swarovski has released activity tracking jewelry, called Shine, that transforms from watch to necklace to bracelet all while wirelessly syncing with the wearer’s smart phone. Humanscale has created two products that work in tandem to increase productivity and psychical activity in the workplace. The QuickStand Lite transforms any fixed-height desk into a standing desk, and can be moved easily allowing for users to sit or stand as often as necessary. The OfficeIQ was created in collaboration with Tome Software and uses sensor technology to gather data on sit-stand use. It measures caloric expenditure and sends real time notifications to users, reminding them when they have been seated too long. Print it Out 3DSystems recently released CubePro, a large-format printer that makes printing professional quality models at home a snap. Especially with new printing materials that include nylon, rinse-away support, and wood composite materials. The Nylon material is a flexible and long-lasting medium for functional prototyping. Rinse-Away allows designers to achieve intricate patterns that are easy to remove and leave no“support stubble”” residue. Lastly, its wood composite material can be sanded, nailed, drilled, stained, and painted to make artistic creations. Big news for those of us who are not in the position to buy large-scale printing devices, or have too much work for a home printer to handle. UPS is now offering over 60 printing locations in the U.S. that can quickly and efficiently turn 3D files into models.
At Design Miami, Chicago-based architect Jeanne Gang has teamed up with nature photographer James Balog on an installation called Thinning Ice. Produced for the haute crystal manufacturer Swarovski, the walls of the enclosure comprise a seventy-foot-long LCD screen that displays Balog's documentary images of the Solheimajokull glacier in Austria. The interior of the space is populated with abstracted ice floes: tall tables that are pocked with amorphic depressions representing the random patterns creating by thawing ice and meltwater. At the bottom of these holes are collections of strategically-lit crystals; in varying sizes and colors, both perfectly faceted and imperfectly formed, they are objects of contemplation. The aluminum floor of the pavilion is split, the crack again filled with crystals. An architectural musing on the degrading polar environment, the piece itself is evanescent—it's in place just for the duration of the art fair, which runs from December 3 through December 7.
New York designer David Rockwell has once again been tagged to put together the set for the Oscars, which will take place on March 7 at the Kodak Theater. Instead of messing with a good thing, he's once again framing the stage with the Swarovski "Crystal Curtain," made up of 92,000 crystals hanging in an upside-down crescent shape over the proceedings. This time the crystals (rendering above) will be colored in white, platinum, topaz, and bronze hues (the dominant colors last year were cool blue and white). The set will also include three circular, revolving platforms along with rotating LEDs and metalwork projection screens to keep things moving along at the notoriously slow event (which will have two hosts this year: Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin). "We wanted big, open, crisp environments that would work for comedy. Eventually, that led us to the idea of the set being about immersion in the world of movies. Stylistically, I realized the optimism of modernism in L.A. and the heyday of Hollywood was the perfect way in," he told the L.A. Times yesterday.