Reinventing textiles: Elaine Yan Ling Ng’s stunning Swarovski ’Sundew’ installation

Reinventing textiles: Elaine Yan Ling Ng’s stunning Swarovski ’Sundew’ installation

Swarovski returns to Hong Kong’s second iteration of Art Central this year with an extraordinary crystal-inspired Sundew installation that has an unforeseen flaw. 

The multisensory series of sound-activated sculptures – resembling carnivorous plants and made of hand-crafted textiles by Hong Kong-based designer Elaine Yan Ling Ng – is so mesmerising that it has had a show-stopping effect, as visitors stand transfixed by the spectacle near the fair’s entrance.

‘Sundews in nature lure their prey in just like this,’ says the designer, who graduated from London’s Central Saint Martins in 2010 before founding her own studio, The Fabrick Lab, in Hong Kong. Last year, Ng was named one of Swarovski’s Designers of the Future with the first in her Sundew series unveiled at Design Miami/Basel 2015.

Although it goes by the same name, the current installation marks a significant evolution of the original series.

‘I’ve made some very ambitious changes,’ she explains. ’Double layers of crystals add a new dimension but complicate the mechanical movement where the sculpture mimics the opening and closing of the sundew tentacles, as it closes in on its prey.’

The goal of the project was to reinvent textiles, examining ways of using crystals as a structure rather than just a decorative material. Around 20 million Swarovski crystals were used.

‘I love working with natural fibres so it was important for me to understand the quality and behaviour of crystals, to help engineer how the textile flows with the machine,’ Ng says. 

The interactive exhibition entices all the senses, attracting its prey with two custom made fragrances: ‘Entice’ to help attract its prey, followed by a more intense fragrance appropriately titled ‘The Kill’.

The works also react to sound, with each form programmed to recognise a certain note.

Ng admits that within the family of sculptures, the relatively understated elegant rose pink form is her favourite. ‘It is so simple yet powerful. It was a labour of love to make as each strip was hand wrapped with textiles and then laminated with a special resin before being hand cut into strips to create that simple gradation. It has already captured me.’

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