LDF: Tord Boontje X Swarovski at Design Frontiers

At this years LDF, we took a look around ‘Design Frontiers’ which was being held at the iconic Somerset House. We managed to sit down with dutch designer Tord Boontje to talk about his installation and collaboration with crystal specialist Swarovski. 

This year, Boontje has collaborated with Swarovski to produce Luminous Reflections, a collection of three crystal lighting components (Arc, Swirl, Circle) and four lighting designs released under the newly revived Swarovski Crystal Palace – a range of inspiring lighting pieces and components created in collaboration with visionary designers.Tord Boontje 2 webThe three crystal components have innovative fluid, unfaceted surfaces – the first of their kind to be launched by Swarovski, whose traditional expertise is precision-cutting. A new interpretation of crystal, the rippled surfaces are designed to produce soft and organic light effects, replicating the reflections of sunlight on water.

The installation also included an innovative soundscape which was created in collaboration with sound artist Manabu Shimada and played in surround sound while you walked around the installation. You heard the sounds of water and waves to mirror the reflections from the crystal lights themselves.

Here’s what Tord Boontje has to tell us about his designs;

KN: Hi Tord, Can you tell us about what you do?

TB: I’m a product designer based in London, and I started Studio Tord Boontje in 1996. The studio has since worked with international companies on a range of products that includes lighting, textiles, ceramics, site-specific installations and furniture. My designs are whimsical and light-hearted yet at the same time they can connect with strong emotions.

KN: Can you tell me about what you’ve been doing for Design Frontiers this year? 

TB: We are presenting a new collection of crystals, that I designed for Swarovski. And with these crystals we also made the first new chandeliers.Tord Boontje 1 webKN: What was the process and inspiration for these new pieces? 

TB: Swarovski asked me to design new crystals for lighting components. So I started to think about what sort of light I wanted to create and I was very inspired by the way water reflects sunlight. I liked the softer light quality. I then developed this very fluid, organic shapes of crystals that create this light effect.

KN: What is it you did to the crystals to create this effect?

TB: I made a study of different glass shapes, part of it was in the Swarovski archive which goes back over 100 years. I studied very old jewelry components, especially from the 60s/70s which use very rounded shapes. In those I started to recognise the type of light effect the shapes created. After that I started to make models out of clay of the types of shapes that I wanted, I wanted something fluid, organic and also with clarity. I took a circle and an oval and I twisted it and added ridges to the material – The ridges break the light.

After the clay models we transferred them into computer models, which is where we can then carve the shapes out of a solid block of glass. We then have a transparent prototype and we can really see what happens with the light. With this process I could really understand what worked and what didn’t. Finally I then came to the final designs.Tord Boontje 4 webKN: Amazing! And finally, if you could sum up good design in one word what would it be and why?

TB: I would say exciting! For me, good design is as exciting as a fantastic Hitchcock film or a good book that you read. I believe that design can add that to our life.

Click the links to watch part 1 and part 2 of our highlights from LDF…


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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