Swarovski presents the next instalment of its Designers of the Future initiative, an award supporting emerging talent who exemplify innovation in design. Unveiled at Design Miami/ Basel, this year’s recipients are Frank Kolkman, Study O Portable and Yosuke Ushigome who have responded to the theme of ‘smart living’ with a trio of installations which apply crystal technologies to our living environments, focusing on accessibility, sustainability and interactivity.

Experimental Dutch designer Frank Kolkman’s ‘Dream Machine’ is an immersive crystal light and sound installation which synchronises with human brainwaves to provoke a state of deep relaxation or ‘artificial dreaming’.

Building on the works of 1950/60s avant-garde artists such as Brion Gysin, Tony Conrad and Bernhard Leitner, Kolkman collaborated with London-based sound architect Sam Conran on the project, who has created a bespoke 3D composition based on brainwave stimulation, which uses binaural beats for a sound design inspired by diffraction patterns in X-ray crystallography.

Technology today advances very rapidly and sometimes without much consideration or critical thought about how it can be meaningfully implemented in our lives,’ says the designer. ‘I believe design can be an excellent sense-making tool amidst these developments.’

Taking a different approach is Japanese technologist Yosuke Ushigome, who explored the material from a behavioural point of view, merging his practice with Swarovski’s signature product. Imagining a world where crystal acts as an alternative interaction between human and machine intelligence, his home shrine installation counteracts the robotic exchanges typical of smart home devices, delivering data in a conversational and ritualistic way. ‘

Designers get to work with emerging technologies before they get embedded deep in our culture,’ Ushigome comments. ‘This can play a tremendous role in shaping our future and imagination.’ His installation is accompanied by an film produced by Mute Animations, which explains the evolution of technology and smart living.

‘Slanted Tiles’ is another dynamic interpretation of the material from Study O Portable, which puts crystal in conversation with a domestic environment. Working with Swarovski’s cutting technology, the duo have taken an analogue route in their installation exploring the emotion evoked by the changing light and colour from the gems, creating surfaces which have been translated into a series of screens.

‘To work directly with set materials and processes is a different approach for us and it’s been really enjoyable,’ say designers Bernadette Deddens and Tetsuo Mukai. The result is a mesmerising screen of colour that captures interesting light interactions creating graphic shadows.

The installations signify Swarovski’s constant quest for innovation and experimentation with its unique material, forming new directions in design culture.

See more from Design Miami/Basel 2018