Surfaces Focus: Swarovski Designers of the Future winner

A look at the architectural surfaces designed by Juju Wang, one of the winners of the Swarovski Designers of the Future Award

Words by Emily Martin

For the fifth consecutive year Swarovski and Design Miami have announced the winners of the Swarovski Designers of the Future Award. For 2019 they were Shanghai-born installation artist Juju Wang, Dutch duo Studio Klarenbeek & Dros, and London-based lighting designer Raffe Burrell.

Sea-cret, Juju Wang’s winning installationSea-cret, Juju Wang’s winning installation

Each was commissioned to produce work that applied pioneering sustainable crystal technologies for a showcase at Design Miami/Basel last June. Selected from across the globe for their innovative approaches, the winners worked to specific briefs: Architectural Surfaces and Building Materials, Home Décor, and Lighting.

Wang’s Sea-cret uses 830,000 crystals. Image credit: Mark Cocksedge.Wang’s Sea-cret uses 830,000 crystals. Image credit: Mark Cocksedge

Responding to the Architectural Surfaces and Building Materials category was Chinese-American installation artist Wang with her installation Sea-cret. Her work mixes traditional Chinese culture with modern art, and her bold use of new materials and emotional and rational creativity standards has established a unique personal style.

The design was planned to recreate the effect of sparkle on the surface of waterThe design was planned to recreate the effect of sparkle on the surface of water

Sea-cret explores kinetic architectural facades inspired by the importance of water, and how a dynamic patterned design creates calmness and depth in a space. Embracing Swarovski’s heritage and the integral role water has played in the brand’s history, the three-dimensional immersive experience breaks the boundaries of a classical flat surface.

Surrounded by mirrors, Wang uses 830,000 crystals in five bespoke colourways from Swarovski Crystal Rocks to recreate the effect of sparkle on the water’s surface. Offering visitors more than just a visual experience, Wang’s installation also features a bespoke soundtrack and even scent to encourage visitors to slow their pace and enjoy the contemplative atmosphere. The music features the sounds of footsteps on sand, waves crashing on the shore and children playing, captured by the designer when walking along the beach in Greece. ‘I am very interested in atmosphere and the tranquillity of one space,’ says Wang. ‘My installation not only looks like the surface of water, it encourages people to be calm, to take a step back and relax, enjoy the moment and then move on with their lives. I think it’s very important to bring people’s emotions into the artwork.’

Wang worked with Swarovski’s architectural innovations team to explore kinetic architectural facades. For 2019 the award invited the winning designers to use Swarovski’s diverse resources to develop a prototype or statement that illustrated environmentally conscious design, took into consideration Swarovski’s existing catalogue of products, and explored the potential for wider collaboration between brand and designer.

To inspire the creative process the winners visited Swarovski’s headquarters in Wattens, Austria, to discover the crystal brand’s legacy of innovation and creativity. They explored the company’s archives, the new Manufaktur building championing Swarovski’s rapid prototyping process, and the innovative Lighting and Crystal studios, taking the opportunity to develop and experiment with their concepts.

Swarovski uses some of the most responsible crystal on the market. A third of its energy for production comes from renewables and 70 per cent of the water used is from recycled sources as part of its environmental management programme.Through its Restricted Substance Policy Program (CLEAR) Swarovski systematically manages, restricts and eliminates harmful chemicals from products and its supply chain. These efforts are part of a commitment to driving positive change in the industry. 

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