Natural Light

At London Design Festival 2017

Tord Boontje and Swarovski Crystal Palace at London Design Festival
Tord Boontje and Swarovski Crystal Palace at London Design Festival

There was a new kind of light shining on this year’s London Design Festival from September 16-24. Tord Boontje, in his fifteenth year of collaboration with Swarovski, has created three first-of-a-kind crystal lighting components—ArcCircle and Swirl—that have been drawing design aficionados to the capital’s historic Somerset House in their droves.

What makes them revolutionary is that, unlike other crystals, these have fluid, unfaceted surfaces—a groundbreaking interpretation of what a crystal can be, the rippled surfaces designed to produce much softer, organic light effects. Think of a clear mountain lake on a bright, misty morning, as sunlight dances across the water and you come close to the mesmerizing effect they can have upon an interior. 

Indeed, to demonstrate the uniquely beautiful possibilities of the components Boontje has also created four lighting designs: Luminous BoughLustrous AuraShimmering Jewel and Radiant Light. The entire collection, components and chandeliers, gathered under the name Luminous Reflections, and designed exclusively for the newly revived Swarovski Crystal Palace.

Enhancing the charming mood created by Boontje’s lighting installation was an interactive soundscape created in collaboration with sound artist Manabu Shimada and presented via a surround sound system provided by Yamaha. Visitors—and anyone around the world—were invited to tweet the hashtags #crystal, #light, #reflection, #water, #swarovskicrystalpalace and #tordboontje, each of which acted as a trigger to alter a track of the composition. Anyone could change one of the parameters in real time, including direction and position within the sound field, velocity, pitch and volume, making every minute of the soundscape unique.

It was an effort to change focus from the entrancing effects of Luminous Reflectionsand drill down into the technical detail, but definitely worth the effort: Not only does the range improve sustainability through the use of the latest LED technology, it can also be easily integrated into a smart home, one of the benefits being that the intensity of the light can be altered to suit. In fact, the new fluid crystal components—which despite the lack of facets boast an unusual brilliance—have opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities. We look forward to seeing what other designers might do with ArcCircle and Swirl next.


Photography Mark Cocksedge