Inside the sketchbook of Swarovski's 7-metre installation at Design Shanghai 2016

Inside the sketchbook of Swarovski's 7-metre installation at Design Shanghai 2016

Crystal castle

Text: Adibah Isa

For Design Shanghai 2016, Swarovski has shipped over its colourful construction 'Zotem' from Kim Thomé. We sneak a peek at the London-based artist's sketchbook

Swarovski is one multi-hyphenate of a brand. Not only do they produce bejeweled bliss, they're continuously committed to engaging different aspects of art and design: Be it collaborating with photographers such as Eric Valli for the 'Living Yangtze' exhibition, working with Madonna on her music videos, films and world tours in her decades-long career, or partnering with artists to produce large-scale installations. They've been around the block, showing up in the art scenes of Art Basel Hong Kong, Venice Biennale and Frieze Art Fair. They're also a regular in design shows Salone del Mobile, Maison&Objet, Design Miami and Design Shanghai.

In fact, after 'Prologue' by Fredrikson Stallard in Design Shanghai last year — where 8,000 golden Swarovski crystals were suspended in a luminous ring — the crystals are back in the Chinese city in 'Zotem' by Kim Thomé. While it uses lesser crystals — just 206 — the seven-metre high piece shows off its height, as well as a special motorised canvas mechanism that allows the structure to create a blend of light and movement.

L-R: Zotem in London and Shanghai

Conceptualised and crafted by the Norwegian born, London-based artist, the title 'Zotem' is a play on the words 'totem' and 'zoetrope' — the latter's a 19th-century animation device that gives the illusion of motion, by displaying a sequence of isolated drawings that appear to move. 

How do the crystals come into effect? In a prism-like trance, they reflect and refract the colourful geometric patterns that are printed on a mesh canvas which runs in a continuous loop inside the totem framework. Initially shown at London's Victoria and Albert Museum in September last year as part of the London Design Festival, it now takes its place in Design Shanghai 2016.

The 'Zotem' installation is presented at Design Shanghai till 12 March at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre. For details, click here.