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LDF17: Tord Boontje’s Luminous Reflections

This year’s London Design Festival saw the global launch of Tord Boontje’s new collection of chandeliers and crystal lighting components, designed exclusively for Swarovski Crystal Palace in his 15th year of collaboration with Swarovski.

Tord Boontje has collaborated with Swarovski for 15 years on projects ranging from homeware to lighting and jewelry to installations. This year, Boontje has collaborated with Swarovski to produce Luminous Reflections, a collection of three crystal lighting components (Arc, Swirl, Circle) and four lighting designs (Luminous Bough, Lustrous Aura, Shimmering Jewel, Radiant Light) released under the newly revived Swarovski Crystal Palace – a range of inspiring lighting pieces and components created in collaboration with visionary designers.

The three crystal components have innovative fluid, unfaceted surfaces – the first of their kind to be launched by Swarovski, whose traditional expertise is precision-cutting. A new interpretation of crystal, the rippled surfaces are designed to produce soft and organic light effects, replicating the reflections of sunlight on water.

The crystal components were developed specifically for the interior lighting industry and will be available for designers to buy and use in their creations. With the spectacular chandeliers, Boontje showcases the capabilities of the components in designs that can be presented in many formations to create mesmerising light spectacles.

Tord Boontje commented: Having worked with Swarovski crystal for 15 years I understand how light and crystal work together – it can illuminate a room with bright sparkle or create dazzling glamour as jewellery. I have also gained an insight into possible innovations, what the future of crystal could be, and for the first time I have had the opportunity to change the shape of the lighting crystals. I wanted a ‘soft light’ effect; the quality of light you see in a misty or snowy landscape or on a lake as dancing light reflections. For me these chandeliers really celebrate an organic quality of light that crystal can create.

The installation also includes an innovative soundscape, which was created in collaboration with sound artist Manabu Shimada and is presented via a surround sound system provided by Yamaha. Visitors can ‘tweet’ to alter the composition of the music by using one of the following hashtags on Twitter to change the soundscape: #crystal #light #reflection #water #swarovskicrystalpalace #tordboontje

Shimada created a randomly-programmable software control, which responds in real time to tweets from anyone, anywhere in the world. Trigger words adjust the parameters for each individual track in real time. Each trigger word changes one of the parameters, including direction and position within the sound field, velocity, pitch and volume making every minute of the soundscape unique.

Nadja Swarovski, Member of the Executive Board, commented: “We are delighted to work once again with our long-time collaborator, Tord Boontje, on this incredible new collection for Swarovski Crystal Palace. Its elegant, organic curves bring a fresh interpretation to the interplay of crystal and light.”

Swarovski Crystal Palace began in 2002 as an experimental platform to enable design luminaries to explore the boundaries of lighting design through the emotive medium of cut crystal. The project quickly evolved into a fascinating journey of discovery and an incubator for new ideas, following collaborations with more than 60 designers over 15 years, including Zaha Hadid, Yves Behar, Tom Dixon, Ross Lovegrove, Arik Levy, Tokujin Yoshioka, Ron Arad and Gaetano Pesce.

The relaunched Swarovski Crystal Palace collections comprise 17 pieces by 5 designers, including Fredrikson Stallard, Tord Boontje, Yves Behar, Vincent Van Duysen and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. These iconic and popular designs have been updated with the latest lighting industry technologies. The chandeliers now feature lead-free Advanced Crystal components and the latest LEDs, making them more sustainable. The shade and intensity of the light can be changed (eg, white-yellow), and the chandeliers can be integrated into a smart home. The designs have also been refined with improved suspensions, including canopies and fixing points. More stunning pieces from the Swarovski Crystal Palace archive are being revived, upgraded and prepared for launch in the coming months and years.

SEEN attended a fascinating talk, which was part of the LDF, with Tord Boontje, Ilse Crawford, and Nadja Swarovski, chaired by Suzanne Trocme, Wallpaper* editor-at-large. Set in the stunning drawing room of the Pennethorne Bar at Somerset House, a packed and appreciative audience enjoyed the reminiscences of the speakers and the fascinating insight into the design process itself. Ilse Crawford spoke movingly of the taxi driver who took her to the suburbs of Milan where a Swarovski chandelier had been installed for the Salone di Mobile. He was so blown away by the beauty of the piece that he kept bringing his passengers back to see it as well. What is evident on the part of all the speakers was their great knowledge, passion and commitment to the design process and to the continuing development of Swarovski as a brand for the 21st century.

Tord Boontje’s designs are transcendent and breathtaking. Their organic softness seems a million miles away from the more traditional ‘heavy’ cut-glass chandeliers. They create an ethereal ambience, almost mobile-like. Boontje spoke of finding toys and shapes in glass that inspired him to step away from the faceted designs synonymous with Swarovski. It was a privilege to hear the panel speak of their hopes, particularly with regard to mentoring the next generation. The future is indeed bright.