Or…..”diamonds are a girl’s best friend”….We drove from the Salzburgerland to Tyrol, our destination was the village of Wattens, very close to Innsbruck. We arrived late morning and almost immediately we found a nice B&B where to stay….
Wattens it’s not extraordinary, just one ordinary village like many others in Austria….no tourists around, the only strangers were there on business…
It was this guy who made the village famous around the world….Daniel Swarovski (October 24, 1862 – January 23, 1956), formerly Daniel Swartz, was born in northern Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). His father was a glass cutter who owned a small glass factory. It was there that the young Swarovski served an apprenticeship, becoming skilled in the art of glass-cutting. In 1892 he patented an electric cutting machine that facilitated the production of crystal glass. In 1895, Swarovski financier Armand Kosman and Franz Weis founded the Swarovski company, originally known as A. Kosman, Daniel Swartz & Co., which was later shortened to K.S. & Co. The company established a crystal cutting factory in Wattens, to take advantage of local hydroelectricity for the energy-intensive grinding processes Daniel Swarovski patented. Nadja Swarovski, the founder’s great-great granddaughter, is a member of the current Swarovski executive board.
The huge headquarter of the company is set in the middle of the village. The company is split into two major industry areas, the Swarovski Kristall business unit that primarily works with luxury items and fashion design crystals, and the Tyrolit business unit that manufactures bonded abrasives as well as concrete sawing and drilling machinery. The Swarovski Crystal range includes crystal glass sculptures and miniatures, jewelry and couture, home decor, and chandeliers. All sculptures are marked with a logo. The original Swarovski logo was an edelweiss flower, which was replaced by an S.A.L. logo, which was finally replaced with the current swan logo in 1988. To create crystal glass that lets light refract in a rainbow spectrum, Swarovski coats some of its products with special metallic chemical coatings. For example, Aurora Borealis, or “AB”, gives the surface a rainbow appearance. In 2004 Swarovski released Xilion, a copyrighted cut designed to optimise the brilliance of Roses (components with flat backs) and Chatons (diamond cut). The Swarovski Group also includes Tyrolit (makers of abrasive and cutting tools); Swareflex (reflective and luminous road markings); Signity (synthetic and natural gemstones); and Swarovski Optik (optical instruments such as binoculars and rifle scopes).
Swarovski’s figurines are collectible, with a stylized mouse being the very first figurine created. A smaller version of this mouse, now labeled the “replica mouse”, is still available. The company produces many types of figurines from ladybugs to limited edition Disney collectibles. Swarovski Elements crystals were included in some collectible silver coins issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2009. In November 2014, Victoria’s Secret revealed its re-design of the Heavenly Luxe perfume bottle. Designed in Italy using many Swarovski crystals to embellish the ornate angel wings, the $250 bottle of perfume is packaged in a gilded, white lacquered box. Since 2004, Swarovski has created the 9-foot-diameter (2.7 m), 550-pound (250 kg) star or snowflake that tops the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City. The tree ornament now serves as the inspiration for the smaller Annual Edition ornaments that have been sold in the retail stores since 1991. Swarovski was a sponsor for the 2004 film The Phantom of the Opera, in which the “standing model” of the chandelier was composed of Swarovski crystals. A Swarovski shop window is visible later in the film. However instead of using the edelweiss flower, which would have been the case in the era the film was set, the current swan logo was used. The 2009 documentary film This Is It showed Michael Jackson rehearsing for a concert tour, featuring costumes covered in Swarovski crystals.
Travelling around Europe we had started this sort of tradition…every time we find a Swarovski store, we buy something. Now we have swans, penguins, little bears, butterlies, bees, cats, dogs and many different kind of flowers…Recently I started to buy some pieces of jewellery….But it wasn’t the factory that got our interest, but the another company asset, a crystal-themed museum, Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds) about 2 kms outside Wattens. Could we miss that?…..Absolutely not! The first impact was this sign, all glittering of crystals….and the view on the mountains surrounding the area.
Before entering the attractions we had lunch at the restaurant, obviously called “Daniel”…..
Then we were ready to enter the Green Giant….
Since its inauguration in 1995, more than 10 million adults and children sharing the same desire to be amazed, entered in the 14 rooms of Wonders of the glittering Swarovski Crystal Worlds. It was on the occasion of the centenary of the company, that the fifth generation of the family decided to create a sort of museum where the magical lights of the crystals could be turned into pure art. After all, in 1895, Daniel, who at 30 years invented the first machine for cutting glass, considered this material more an inspiration than a material of use. After two different phases of restructuring, the museum, whose design has been entrusted to the multimedia artist André Heller, covers today a total area of 8,500 square meters. Sculptures and installations by internationally renowned artists create a route on the border between dream and reality, between astonishment and deception.
Declined in all languages, the word crystal glistens between the poems written on the walls and the sparkle of the lights illuminating the rooms. The Black Horse of the Maharajas decked with rubies and diamonds (copy of the gift that the Indian gave to the animal that saved his life), seems to mock the amazement with which one admires it.
The Centenar, that with his over 310.000 carats it’s the greatest cut crystal of the world.
Nana by Niki da Saint Phalle holding a big crystal in her left hand…………..
A work by Keith Haring…..the pic dosn’t really shows it, but the figurine is shining with black crystals…
All through the visit, almost every room show a wall made by 12 tonnes of crystals cut one by one according to the family motto: “Das gute standig verbessern,” roughly translated with the good that has been done can still be improved.
The centerpiece of Swarovski Crystal Worlds is the Crystal Dome (maybe the installation I liked the most there). Built in line with the construction principles of a geodesic dome by Buckminster Fuller, the Crystal Dome with its 595 mirrors gives the viewer the feeling of being inside a crystal. The multi-faceted walls refract sound (music by Brian Eno) and light many times over – only gradually revealing hidden works of art. In a memorable performance in the Crystal Dome, the world famous soprano Jessye Norman sang the final aria “Thy hand, Belinda” from Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (the video can be seen in another room). As you enter the room, tons of invisible plastic disks on the ground give you the impression of walking on breaking glasses…
Crystal is especially fascinating when it is like ice, sparkling, cool and mysterious. In “Silent Light” by Tord Boontje and Alexander McQueen, crystal takes on the primeval form of rough icicles and is reminiscent of a bitingly cold, moonlit winter’s night.
For “Into Lattice Sun”, South Korean artist Lee Bul looked to modernist architecture as her muse, translating it into a metropolitan, dramatic, and utopian landscape for her Chamber of Wonder.
The Gallery is fed directly by the masters of this world. Here, the exhibition of works from the archive of Swarovski Crystal Worlds is constantly revolving, a comprehensive collection of works by renowned masters like Gustav Klimt, Marc Chagall, or Joan Miró is presented in spectacular displays that show the changeability and variety of modern art. The Gallery is currently featuring “Transparent Opacity,” an installation created by Israeli artist Arik Levy, a veritable mise-en-scène in crystal of varying shape and dimension.
For their installation, the designer duo Studio Job let themselves be inspired by the term “Chamber of Wonder” itself to draw inspiration; today, the term signifies a wondrous, strange, all-encompassing spatial experience.
The Crystal Forest: Nature and technology are considered opposites but in the work of Fabrizio Plessi, they become equal partners in an exciting symbiosis. Each of the natural tree trunks is a wooden home to a video installation displaying a gripping interplay of the elements, fire, water, and crystal.
Some glass artists reproduced some of the most famous buildings of the world….
Reflections – a wonder of the world: walking through the spiral of these Chambers of Wonders is almost like sleepwalking. 48 polygons and 300 facets hold fragments of pictures like snatches of thought. Drawings, illustrations and animations explain the historical significance of crystal, its influence on society and its role in nature, culture, science, and religion all around the world.
As visitors leave the Chambers of Wonder, the jellyfish “Leviathan” by Thomas Feuerstein says goodbye with its mystical lighting.
The Timeless area tells the history of Swarovski and crystal in all of its historical facets, from jewellery for theatre and cinema….
to the most iconic piece of all, Elton John Crown designed by Armani….
and of course, Cinderella shoe………
The crowning piece of the new garden is the Crystal Cloud, created by Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot. This monumental installation, consisting of some 800,000 hand-mounted Swarovski crystals, drifts above the black Mirror Pool, and when the wind is blowing playing along with the rays os the sun, the effect is stunning!
Exiting the park, there’s obviously a huge store……we couldn’t pass by, right?
This is the bracelet I came home with….
On the culinary front, Wattens it’s not less brilliant…..the first restaurant we tried is called “The Swan“….what else?….
The second one was less traditional, but good nevertheless….