▲ The symbol of Swarovski. Photographed by Choi Jiyoung
Crystal is not a mere accessory but an inspiration to designers and a long-lived legacy for the worldwide renowned company, Swarovski. Swarovski is holding the first exhibition ever in Asia, displaying some of their acclaimed collaborative works with top-notch designers and works of art worn by celebrities. Although not as much as expected, there were fresh attempts that reflect creativity, which seem good enough for the first try.
The name Swarovski holds a lot of weight, especially in Korea. The Korean market works as the Asian market’s index for Swarovski, as it is among the top ten countries of generating revenue. Therefore, the news that the brand’s exhibition was going to be hosted was met with great interest. The brand power itself should be enough to make people want to go, whereas events such as Jazz Night and Christmas Party add to the fun.
The exhibition is displayed in Daelim Museum, the museum that takes pride in bringing the public closer to art. Past exhibitions include photo displays of Karl Lagerfeld, most well known as the head designer of Chanel, and Finn Juhl’s exhibition, who is a legendary figure in Danish design. Both designers are wickedly famous in their field, but rather distant from the public. Along this line, as one can surely see from the Swarovski exhibition, Daelim Museum works hard to mingle in with the crowd.
These endeavors are noticeable right from the beginning. From whichever way you come, the very first thing that greets you is the shining, sparkling walls, depicting butterflies and the shape of gemstones. The walls shine brightly in the sun, warmly inviting us in. Once stepping through the door, it is a completely different world––sudden change from white to black. The place is dark, with a towering tree decorated with crystal ornaments.
Another notable effort is the title, Sparkling Secrets, which triggers the dangerous curiosity that killed the cat. With the walls disguised like drawers, keyholes timidly emit light, making the visitors want to pull that drawer out of the wall and see what is in it. The second, “sparkling” part, is cleverly brought to notice with the letters of each section titles filled with glass crystals. These tiny details on the interior design give a sense of how much effort was put into this exhibition.
There are a total of four floors, with people usually working their way up, though there is no certain sequence. The first floor is named the crystal tunnel, with dark surrounding marking a journey into the world of lights.
The next floor holds the highlight of the exhibition. The second floor could, at first, be mildly boring with history. The crystal maze section might have fooled you with the idea of installation art; nevertheless, it is a museum of Swarovski, with milestone works kept in each pillar. One interesting point is that these works show that Swarovski has been close to our daily lives throughout the past years. It is not just jewelry to be set aside for occasional parties or gatherings. The crystal dishes and bowls show that beauty and art could be anywhere.
Then comes the masterpiece, “Xirius 1088.” 27 centimeters wide, this gemstone is the ideal of beauty in simplicity. Slightly oval shaped and set in a dark round room, the light that shines off the stone is all colors of the rainbow. Crystals are originally transparent, and do not have any color, but Swarovski has applied a thin layer to make an ordinary stone extraordinary. This is the very technique that made the current famous Swarovski.
▲ The media art collaborative work by Roll Sp!ke. Photographed by Choi Jiyoung
The most uncrystal-like of all pieces is the work by Roll Sp!ke, a media art collaborative project group. Transparent rectangular cubes are filled with water or smog. Patterned lights are sent either through or on the cubes, and the light that passes through them is projected on the high ceiling and walls on every side. The room is thus full of light in different patterns. To top it all, these lights move in accordance with the background music, creating a complete media art masterpiece.
Another artwork that is almost divine in its beauty is the “Ice Branches.” With lights on, it works as a chandelier, and with lights off, it allows the viewers a closer look at each of its branches. Every piece of crystal used seems to be different in its shape and size; thus, it is not standardized but at the same time neatly organized. On the same floor is a glimpse of a creative lab of the creative director of Swarovski.
The last floor holds works by some famous designers, such as Vera Wang and Giorgio Armani. Background knowledge of their works would give the viewers more meaning to the displays, so it would be advisable to briefly learn about their works. Those without background knowledge would only be able to admire the outer beauty.
▲ The inside of the nirvana ring by JOH. Photographed by Choi Jiyoung
Out in the garden is “The Nirvana Ring,” an architectural configuration made by a creative consulting company, the JOH company.This ring is based on a romantic cutting technique called nirvana. Using this technique, professionals facet crystals so that the ring reveals the shape of a heart. Visitors can freely take pictures and try out crystal rings in this room.
Dripping with effort is what describes the exhibition. Eager to show too much, maybe, the visitors might be overwhelmed at the amount of information they have to take in. Nevertheless, as the exhibition poster presents, “some secrets are worth sharing.”