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Architect Greg Lynn selected to create hi-tech installation for Swarovski Crystal Palace at Design Miami
Nov 12, 2009

Award-winning architect Greg Lynn, known for his computer-generated biomorphic structures, will create an atmospheric installation for Swarovski Crystal Palace at this year’s Design Miami, which runs from 1 – 5 December 2009 in Miami’s Design District. Swarovski Crystal Palace, now in its 8th year, has worked with some of the world’s foremost designers including Zaha Hadid, Yvés Behar, Studio Job, Ross Lovegrove, Tom Dixon, Ron Arad, Tokujin Yoshioka and Fernando and Humberto Campana to create signature interpretations of light and design using cut crystal. Located at the entrance to the Designers’ Lounge, the structure will take the form of space extending over 80 square meters and reaching over 7 meters in height, where the ‘walls’ and ‘ceiling’ are made of Swarovski crystal-encrusted suspended panels “sails” whose molded, curved and billowing shapes overlap and intersect. The installation uses cutting edge technology from the sailing and shipbuilding/ nautical industry in which carbon and aramid fibers are compressed between transparent sheets of Mylar to make astonishingly strong, lightweight and transparent sails that are less than 1mm thick. “The sails are made to cope with massive loads from the wind,” Lynn comments. “It’s like hanging 3 SUVs off a paper thin sheet.” Lynn has taken this technology to create his sculptural composition, incorporating thousands of Swarovski crystals. “When Swarovski asked me if I had any ideas about how to integrate crystals into large scale elements I recalled my first visit to the Salone del Mobile in Milan in 2002,” Lynn recalls. “I only had a few hours in the city and the first thing I saw was a light designed by Tord Boontje for Swarovski Crystal Palace. I was knocked out by the way that wire was used to hold the crystals not in hanging ropes but in branches suspended in space. Any time a classical typology is re-imagined I get excited. So when Swarovski contacted me, I immediately thought of the translucent laminate sails as a way of getting the crystals suspended in the air - not as an object but as a sheet or surface through which light could pass and be reflected. Like the chandeliers the array would be diaphanous but with their curved surfaces these ‘fabrics’ could also define spaces and make enclosures in the form of suspended ceilings, room partitions or even walls.” The panels in Lynn’s installation will feature three different colored fibres; black carbon fiber and aramid both in its ‘natural’ gold and in a crimson-died version. These fibres will be woven and incorporated in different ways, blending to create richly nuanced colors. Set amongst these fibers will be thousands of tiny clear and coloured crystals, with hues including aquamarine, pink, red, peach and blue, which will contribute to reflection, highlights and also surface washes of color. More than 1,500,000 crystals and more than 117,000 meters of carbon and aramid fibers have been used to create the panels for this installation, which were assembled by computer-guided robots on dynamically formed molds at the North Sails 3DL factory. The panels vary in size, with some as long as 14 m and as wide as 8m. The material is so thin that even panels with a surface area of over 50 square meters can easily be folded and packed into the trunk of a passenger car. The entire installation, including the weight of the crystals, weighs less than 350 kg. Lynn has been named one of the 100 most innovative people in the world by Time Magazine while Forbes Magazine named him one of the ten most influential living architects. He has received the Venice Biennale of Architecture’s Golden Lion, the American Academy of Arts & Letters Architecture Award and awards from the AIA and Progressive Architecture. Both his Alessi “Supple” Mocha Cups and his Vitra “Ravioli” Chair have been inducted into the Museum of Modern Art’s Permanent Collection. He is the author of seven books and monographs including Animate Form which is considered the seminal book on the use of digital technology in architecture.

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