Fresh from the three collaborative crystal interpretations shown at Design Miami/ Basel, Swarovski now presents its latest tie-in, this time with the Norwegian designer Kim Thomé. Zotem is an 18m tall sculpture embedded with bespoke Swarovski crystals, to be unveiled at London's Victoria and Albert Museum on 19 September.
The double-sided monolith will be placed in the museum’s entrance as a defacto landmark for the London Design Festival (for which the V&A acts as a central hub). As with projects previously placed in this area, Zotem will encourage visitors to peer into the ceramics galleries upstairs and further explore different rooms of the building and its architecture.
‘When I first asked about the space that we would be using, I went up to the ceramics floor,’ explains Thomé, ‘I had always found it quite hard to get up there, even though it’s one of my favorite places in the V&A. For me it was important that the motions of the crystal patterns actually lead your eye upwards.’
His piece consists of a matte black aluminum structure cut into a geometric grid pattern, framing over 600 Swarovski crystals to create an enchanting, prismatic effect. A roll of printed mesh will continuously move inside the frame, creating dynamic colour action as the natural light shines through the sculpture and is refracted and reflected by the crystals. The elusive name of the project is a conflation of 'totem' and 'zoetrope', highlighting the work’s shape and its movement (a zoetrope being a rudimentary 19th century animation device and early precursor to film proper, the movement of which is similar to that of Thomé’s contraption).
‘I am a big fan of basic linear patterns,’ explains the designer, whose work often features geometric use of bold colours. 'I was interested in using prismatic colours, all the colours of the rainbow. I just wanted to put the colours back into the crystals.’ He likens the final result to a chandelier's refractions of light, but enhanced, highlighted and transformed into a dancing show of colour.
The designer calls his work ‘a basic optical illusion’, with which he would like to puzzle and confuse his audience. ‘I’d like them to try to engage with it and see how this concept works,’ he explains. ‘I’d also like them to come away having been on the sixth floor of the V&A and amazed by the crystal. That's the main part of it.’