Design With a Social Conscious
Founded by Design Miami/ in 2006, Swarovski joined forces as a partner in 2015 with the aim of encouraging designers in the early stages of their careers to develop groundbreaking prototypes or design statements. The requirement was that their work should display inventive ways of incorporating Swarovski crystals. Previous winners include such talents as Studio Swine, Tomás Alonso, Elaine Ng, Max Lamb, Asif Khan, Philippe Malouin, Raw Edges, Random International, Martino Gamper, and Bethan Laura Wood.
The three winners this year were Jimenez Lai, Marjan van Aubel, and TAKT PROJECT. They were asked to respond to the theme “Shaping Societies” with forward-thinking interpretations that reflect their individual fields of interest. What came out of it was a mix of architecture, technology, and product design in beautifully considered, socially conscious installations that reflect Swarovski’s focus on sustainability.
Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel used solar technology to design Cyanometer. Working with Swarovski’s technical teams and the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, Van Aubel's design harnesses sunlight via a portable crystal solar panel to be carried by the user throughout the day. The panel uses a faceted plano-convex crystal specially developed by Swarovski to reflect and refract light to enhance the efficiency of the solar cell technology. The energy stored in the solar cell is then used to power light sources in the home.
The Tokyo-based four-man team known as TAKT PROJECT worked with Swarovski and the 3D-printing company MICRON3DP to develop the technology to print crystal. Inspired by Swarovski’s advanced precision cutting and polishing techniques, the revolutionary outcome—a world first—was a series of 3D-printed crystal candlestick holders and vases called Ice Crystal, which recall the naturally occurring crystals formed by frost. With surfaces only 0.5mm thick, state-of-the-art technology was required to achieve this new art form.
The coming together of these three young designers with Swarovski and Design Miami/ is a forward-thinking collaboration that represents a major step in championing social consciousness in architectural and product design.