For the London Design Museum’s latest exhibition, Digital Crystal, 14 artists, architects, and designers were asked to consider how digital technology has affected our understanding of memory and create installations that use Swarovski cut crystal as the primary material.
Design duo Fredrikson Stallard stole the show with Pandora, a chandelier composed of individually motorized golf ball-sized hunks of crystal that slowly raise and lower, subverting or “exploding” the classic Empire chandelier form. Though Pandora appears to be brilliantly lit from within, Fredrikson Stallard didn’t use any electrical lighting components in the piece, relying on the faceted crystal to reflect and refract light from around the room.
A second chandelier, which Ron Arad designed for Swarovski in 2004, was an early experiment in digital technology that he completely revamped for the exhibition. The shimmering, slinky Lolita was one of few interactive pieces in the show and the only crowd-sourced work. What appears to be a benign spiral chandelier comes to life when it receives a text message or a tweet, which it then displays and sends down its winding form, lasting only a few seconds, or the lifespan of a typical tweet.
Yves Béhar branched out with Amplify, a series of paper lanterns folded into faceted, crystalline shapes lit by a single crystal and a low-energy LED, creating the maximal effect with minimal materials. “Traditional chandeliers are made out of numerous lights and crystals. We wanted to change this equation,” Béhar said in a statement. When clustered together in a dark room the light emitted from the lanterns sends random angled shards that strike the walls, while the cut crystal projects geometric patterns against the paper lanterns, lighting them from within.
Digital Crystal runs through January 13 at Design Museum London.