Click to watch designer Jaime Hayon discuss his new fairground carousel, for Swarovski. Videography: Tom Andrews. Courtesy of Swarovski
While carousels come in many shapes and guises, they have rarely strayed from the Victorian aesthetic that harks back to the heyday of the travelling fairground. A new carousel, unveiled in Wattens, Austria today by crystal manufacturer Swarovski, is an exuberant exception.
Created by Spanish artist-designer Jaime Hayon, the carousel is perched in the south-west corner of Swarovski Kristallwelten – the sculpture garden cum visitors centre nestled among the Tyrolean Alps, near the brand’s head office. Bucking the custom of colourful fairground rides, Hayon has rendered his design in black and white with accents of gold, all in contrast to the verdant surroundings. For Carla Rumler, cultural director of Swarovski and commissioner of the carousel, the choice of palette came as a surprise. ‘I thought it was irritating before I saw the renderings,’ she recalls. ‘But it turned out to be the most elegant thing.’
Walking up the winding path to the carousel, one first notices the jug-eared, cartoonish bust at the top, appearing to wear the carousel’s tented top as an enormous skirt. Underneath, the usual wooden horses have been replaced with fantastic monochrome seats. ‘For me, a carousel can be seen a moving museum,’ explains Hayon. ‘There are sculptures moving around, which can be seen as art pieces. So I started by drawing freely and creating creatures from my imagination.’
One eventual creature appears to be a cross between a balloon animal and a rubber duck, a smaller piece looks like a bipedal narwhal wearing Japanese clogs. For the younger riders, there’s a gentling rocking carriage that can be described as a cross between a snail and a dog, while the requisite spinning teacup has been adorned with playful clown faces.
More whimsical faces – formed of geometric shapes and drawing inspiration from African masks – can be seen on the awnings and fencing. They alternate between expressions of excitement, joy and wonder, mirroring the common reactions of visitors as they discover the attraction. Even the ride attendant’s cabin is topped with a winking character that balances a sausage-like form on its head.
While the project brief did not require Hayon to use Swarovski crystal, there are 15 million pieces deftly integrated into the design, including the wall panels that wrap around the central pole (punctuated with geometric mirrors), the faces on the awnings, and the carousel’s ceiling, which is inlaid with playful drawings in typical Hayon-esque fashion. Sparkling under the summer sun, they draw further attention to the already eye-catching forms.
There are ample view points to admire the carousel, including an observation deck a stone’s throw away, but the best way to experience it is by climbing aboard. Here, a lively soundtrack plays in the background, its classical melody offset by a contemporary bassline. One is torn between caressing, then straddling the fibreglass creatures; admiring the optical illusions created by striped elements in motion; and taking in the glorious views, including the glass-faceted tower by Snøhetta nearby (which serves as Kristallwelten’s café) and the more traditional Alpine architecture and majestic hills in the distance; all while basking in fairytale-like wonder.
Hayon is keen to defy the stereotype that the carousel is a child’s ride. ‘This is an art piece, and art should be for all audiences. I think that adults need to dream and to dare, like children do. When Swarovski asked me to make this carousel, I thought it would be the perfect project. Because even though it can be linked to children, it’s been the perfect opportunity to break the rules.’
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
TF Chan is a former editor of Wallpaper* (2020-23), where he was responsible for the monthly print magazine, planning, commissioning, editing and writing long-lead content across all pillars. He also played a leading role in multi-channel editorial franchises, such as Wallpaper’s annual Design Awards, Guest Editor takeovers and Next Generation series. He aims to create world-class, visually-driven content while championing diversity, international representation and social impact. TF joined Wallpaper* as an intern in January 2013, and served as its commissioning editor from 2017-20, winning a 30 under 30 New Talent Award from the Professional Publishers’ Association. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he holds an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University.
Sam Youkilis’ ‘Somewhere’ is an ode to the beauty of everyday life across cultures
Photographer Sam Youkilis unveils new book ‘Somewhere 2017 – 2023’, the world as seen through his iPhone camera
By Sofia de la Cruz Published
Pierre Yovanovitch opens a home in New York
The Pierre Yovanovitch New York gallery is a 10,000-square-foot space within a penthouse in Chelsea, bringing a taste of Paris to the city
By Pei-Ru Keh Published
Low-energy house in Catalonia minimises its footprint to make the most of its site
Alventosa Morell Arquitectes’ low-energy house in Catalonia nestles into the landscape
By Jonathan Bell Published
World View: Letter from Spain
The World View series shines light on the creativity and resilience of designers around the world as they confront the challenges wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic. Working with contributors around the world, we reach out to creative talents to ponder the power of design in difficult times and share messages of hope. Whether through sculpture, sketches or a speculative ‘space sailboat’, designers across Spain are staying inspired and proactive, as our Madrid editor Maria Sobrino discovers in her conversations with Jaime Hayon, MUT Design, Mayice Studio and Eugeni Quittlet
By Maria Sobrino Last updated
Caesarstone taps Snarkitecture for a new experiment in kitchen design
By Elly Parsons Last updated
Master minimalist Jasper Morrison pulls up a chair to the Design Awards 2018 judging panel
By TF Chan Last updated
Bright star: Lobmeyr celebrates the 50th birthday of its Met Opera chandeliers
By Aaron Peasley Last updated
Top 20 influencers: the brightest big bosses in the business
Our pick of the men and women who match vision with strategic smarts, and manufacturing and design innovation with a confidence that quality will, eventually, win out
By Rosa Bertoli Last updated