LASVIT is a creative hub of glassmaking talents, fresh ideas, and daring designs. This young, progressive Czech glassmaking and design company inspires the world with its breathtaking custom-made installations exhibited all over the world, as well as with its unique lighting and glassware collections made from hand-blown glass. The founder of LASVIT, Leon Jakimič, steers the company with the utmost respect for the Czech glassmaking tradition, but also with a boundless optimism for modern technologies and cutting-edge design.  

The silhouettes of women become more and more visible against the fog and rain drops. The time suddenly seems so slow, each drop hits the muddy ground of the 19th century London streets. The women, all dressed in specially tailored coats, stop right in front of the luxury jewellery shop. Just a moment, and serenity turns into mayhem….

LONDON – Back in the day, a ruthless, all-female Forty Elephants gang ran the capital’s biggest shoplifting racket. For Scotland Yard, they were an everyday nightmare. Now, what used to be a police station has been turned into the luxury Hyatt Hotel, developed by Galliard Homes. LASVIT teamed up with HBA Dubai to create a unique lighting installation which tells a story about this infamous gang of women. 

 “The bar and lounge, Forty Elephants, is a nod to the 19th and 20th century all-female London crime syndicate who specialised in shoplifting. A notable element in Forty Elephants is the stunning glass art installation. It’s created through a series of broken glass signifying the female gangsters broke into the bar… Buried in the centre of the installation is a jewel toned necklace, says HBA partner David T’Kint. 

LASVIT’s designer Linda Procházka followed this brief from HBA and created the image of a “robbery” by means of the glass pieces. “I tried to absorb the atmosphere of the places they robbed. I pictured in my mind how they shatter the window display and burst inside, swiping all the jewellery. I saw the place when Scotland Yard came filled with glass shards and here and there a piece of jewel they hadn’t managed to steal.  The buried necklace in the centre of the ball of glass shards consists of exactly 40 ‘diamonds’ – each symbolising one woman of the gang,“ says designer Linda Procházka.

Vránová named the installation “Diamond’s Hostage,” referring not only to the precious jewel which the Forty Elephants loved to steal, but also to their formidable queen – Alice Diamond. The criminal, who ruled the gang for decades, was known for wearing diamond rings on the fingers of both hands. She could deliver a punch which many men would have envied, and was feared by police as well as other criminals.

Each glass shard in Diamond’s Hostage is hand-split to represent the most precise visual rendition of a broken window. The torn necklace inside is composed of hand-blown pieces which shine like diamonds. 

The overall piece looks fragile, but in fact weighs almost a ton. The piece, with an overall height of over two meters and a diameter of 1,69 meters, had to be fixed to the skylight. To hang pieces weighing 920 kilograms into the glass ceiling with a limited pattern of fixation points, LASVIT had to customize the distribution of shards. When you stand right under the installation and look above, each piece is precisely lined up with the pattern on the glass ceiling.  

It had to be clean work with glass. The same as when the Forty Elephants did each robbery. Most of the gang members were never caught. 

When Scotland Yards would arrive, they were already gone and the goods worth thousands of pounds were gone along with them…

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About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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