The year was 1966 and Swarovski’s ultra-modern chandeliers, evocative of shooting stars, chimed with the vogue then for space-age design and fashion. By now, Swarovski had dazzled Paris’s most powerful fashion houses with its cut-crystal chatons that dusted dresses, handbags and shoes; now, in the mid-1960s it made the leap into lighting, a logical step given the natural link between crystals and luminosity.
Swarovski’s Crystal Palace project, launched in 2002, then took this venture into uncharted realms of experimentation. Its premise — the reinvention of the traditional chandelier — led to the creation of extraordinary sculptural lighting by leading designers, including Tord Boontje, Yves Béhar, Fredrikson Stallard and Vincent van Duysen. Their extravagant, abstract forms pushed the boundaries of crystal technology and broadened the repertoire of forms lighting had hitherto taken, which coincided with the Noughties trend for more flamboyant interiors.
Today these innovations are embodied in pieces such as Marjan van Aubel’s ‘Cyanometer’ lamps for Swarovski. These comprise romantic rings of white opal crystals that contain rather than reflect light. The delicate rose and sky-blue glow they emit conjures up dawn and dusk. Meanwhile another new lighting piece, the ‘Infinite Aura’ collection, nods to the traditional chandelier but is aesthetically more clean-lined. An accompanying app, called Infinite Control, adjusts and pre-programmes the light’s brightness and varies moods.
In addition, Swarovski creates monumental bespoke lighting as well as more classical chandeliers, via its brand Schonbek. Completing Swarovski’s lighting range are its architectural elements that provide ambient lighting effects through their shimmering, crystalline surfaces.
Swarovski’s magical illuminations are prominently showcased at Euroluce, the biennial lighting fair at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. In 2019, the brand’s exhibition was inspired by the four elements and included new additions to Boontje’s ‘Luminous Reflections’ collection — a table and pendant light. Created for the Crystal Palace project, these are fashioned from Swarovski’s first unfaceted crystals and cast light resembling the glittering reflections of sunlight on water. On display, too, was its ‘Anima Mirage’ installation in brushed gold, frosted glass and crystal, which pulsates like a breathing organism in response to movement around it.
As Swarovski evolves through the 21st century, the company’s experimental and innovative lighting will continue to cast its unrivalled glow around the world.