Swarovski Crystals Add Sparkle to Homes
A partnership between RISD and CRYSTALLIZED – Swarovski Elements, a division of Swarovski, resulted in an exciting opportunity for a group of Furniture Design students. Not only did they have the chance to work with an unusual new material for furniture, they also exhibited the resulting designs at a leading industry event—the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York.
In a Wintersession and spring studio led by Assistant Professor Lothar Windels [BFA ’96 ID], 16 undergraduate and graduate students explored new uses for cut crystal in functional furniture pieces and decorative home accents. Site visits to Swarovski’s North America headquarters in Cranston acquainted students with the practical considerations of working with crystal. Swarovski, the world’s leading manufacturer of cut crystal, provided all the crystals used in the final prototypes.
Twenty of the best pieces to emerge from the studio were exhibited in Crystal Connection, making the RISD/Swarovski booth a standout at the ICFF. Among the intriguing creations shown were a woven wood-and-crystal floor mat by undergrad Heidi Cho; a paper bowl with embedded crystals by undergrad Chris Tolles; and a soft silicone hanging lamp with crystal glaze surface treatment by graduate student Ann Adams. Junior James Lear’s lighting solution was a pole lamp with illuminated crystal components, while senior Maria Gmuca used crystals to adorn a lacquered chair.
By building on shared expertise and posing challenging new questions, the partnership between Swarovski and RISD was a tremendous success for everyone involved and resulted in exciting new work to showcase at an international forum.