The main headquarters of Swarovski was established on its current location to take advantage of the local hydroelectricity that powers the intensive grinding of crystals, a process patented by the company founder, Daniel Swarovski.
Swarovski logo at the parking lot
A crystal-studded snake near the ticketing booths
|Some of the masterpieces encircling the Centenar|
|Wall made of Crystals|
|Revolving fashion show|
|Disintegrating human body|
|About the crystal tree|
|The stele masterpiece|
|The Giant's Ring. His image can be seen through the gem|
|The Giant's Accordion|
|The Giant's Gloves|
|The Giant's Walking Stick|
|The Giant during one of his travels|
|Poseidon's Puzzle, the passage way to the next chamber|
|"55 Million Crystals" by Brian Eno|
The largest Swarovski shop in the world. Watches, jewelry, fashion accessories, home decors, figurines, optics,
souvenirs, designer collections, fragrance and beauty, name it. Even if you want just a piece of crystal or
more loose elements for a DIY.
|Hello Kitty Swarovski items|
|Disney Swarovski items (Disney fan here)|
|The entrance ticket to the Crystal World and exit ticket for a discount :)|
Initially, I did not know what to expect from the place. Or maybe I was imagining a simple crystal exhibit and a little tutorial on how the gems are made.
When we got there, I was reminded of Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory. Swarovski Crystal World showed how limitless the potential of crystal is when merged with art and creativity.
Let me talk some fantasy here. The Crystal World is guarded by "The Giant" and is actually housing some of his belongings.
All the chambers inside are dark, which made the crystals stand out more as they reflect light. The Entrance Hall (The Wonder of Art) displays some art collections made by timeless artists like Salvador Dali. These treasures encircle the Centenar, whose 310,000 carats made it the largest crystal ever cut. The "Meditterraneo" chandelier by Gaetano Pesce was inspired by a jellyfish. It is so majestic you can see a different color each time you look at it. The walls leading to the next chamber are also made of crystals.
After the entrance hall is Jim Whiting's Mechanical Theater (The Wonder of Technology). It is an exotic display of a revolving fashion show, dancing trousers, disintegrating human body, and a lot more. In one corner of the chamber you can hear a romantic music beside a mechanical couple having coffee. At the opposite corner you can hear some eerie music coming from somewhere. Jim Whiting became interested in mechanics when he was forced to wear a corset/brace as a child to combat a medical condition. The technology responsible for the high-precision movements in the mechanical theater stems from the works of the engineers of Swarovski's workshops. Genius.
Another amazing room is the Crystal Dome (The Wonder of Facets) where above, beneath, left, and right of you; reflections, light, and sound refract off 595 mirrors. Every now and then, the dome is in different color. And almost reluctantly, the artworks hidden within are shown. The experience of space and boundlessness is most intense if you stand at the center of the room. That's where we stayed waiting for the hidden artworks to show up time and time again.
The next chamber is the Crystaloscope (The Wonder of Color), the world's largest kaleidoscope. In here, you can lose yourself in the crystal formations. When you stand at the center of the room, look down and you will experience the illusion of a completely empty space beneath your feet. All because of the 444-facet crystal masterpiece.
Then there is this tree "Silent Light" (The Wonder of Light) by Tord Boontje and Alexander McQueen. The tree is made of crystals that assume the shape and formation of icicles.
Another room is the Crystal Theater (The Wonder of Fantasy). A stage of the strange. What is impossible in the real world is made possible in this chamber. There is a river of crystal that flows through the room, a crystal-eating plant, and many more. Just run your imagination freely and arrive at your own interpretations of the wonderful displays, both humorous and symbolic.
Below are few of the exhibits you can find inside the Crystal Theater. There is a river of crystals (not seen on photo) below the nook where the zebra on the stiletto rests.
Moving on to the next chamber, you will walk on the Ice Passage (The Wonder of Illusion). The darkness is accompanied by the cracking and clinking sounds made each time you step on the floor. Each step also reveals a trail of crackling crystals suffused with light. It was so cool I walked slowly and watched each of my purposeful step. At the end, there is a stele masterpiece made by a Swarovski employee.
Then there's the The Wonder of Variation Gallery, where 4 architectural legends are transformed into crystal clear showpieces. It was once called the "Chamber of Wonder" which in November 2010 became "Chamber of the World's Wonders". You may have seen replicas of the original buildings before, but those in this room are unique because they are the works of the Russian artistic duo Blue Noses and of course, Swarovski. Blue Noses is the most famous of all Russian contemporary provocateur art groups. The duo's scurrilous videos which can be seen through the clear crystal monuments, coupled with Swarovski's design, make each piece a spectacular display.
Below are the 4 architectural wonders displayed in the Wonder of Variation gallery. Notice the image that can be seen on the floor of Taj Mahal. It is actually a video of an Indian woman dancing. Each monument has its own video. That inside the pyramid is... hmmm... kinda scandalous to mention here.
The next Chamber is The Giant's Belongings (The Wonder of Size), which tells the fable of a friendly giant who travelled around the world. This chamber holds his ring, gloves, walking stick, and accordion; which are all reminders of his trips... until he made the decision to return to his homeland to protect his Crystal World. And now there he is, sitting at the entrance of his realm as can be seen on the third picture of this article. Sweet.
La Primadonna Assoluta (The Wonder of Harmony) shows that perfection in the world of art is best expressed in music. This chamber honors the memorable performance of the renowned soprano, Jessye Norman, in the Crystal Dome.
The photos below show the video of the soprano's performance played in the room. At the center is a natural rock from Madagascar. There are couches in front of the TV so you can sit and appreciate the show more.
Poseidon's Puzzle (The Wonder of the Waves) gives a short but mystical experience by bringing you to a passageway decorated with glistening underwater creatures and shimmering waves.
At the end of the Poseidon's Puzzle; you will be welcomed in a room where you can sit, listen to the music, and take in the image of "55 Million Crystals" (The Wonder of Infinity) by Brian Eno. Brian Eno is a musician, composer, producer, and artist; who proved that nothing lasts forever, yet there are infinite opportunities. When you look at his masterpiece; you will barely notice that the shapes are always in motion, never appearing the same way twice.
Very immediate after this is the chamber of Reflections (The Wonder of the World). Passing through the creatively angled polygons is like walking in a dreamland. Artistic chaos, striking asymmetry, and scattered thoughts are displayed across the 48 polygons. The surfaces change in color, playing with the lights that reflect on them. If you would look closely and analyze; the graphics, illustrations, and animations explain the relationship of crystals with history, nature, culture, society, and religion.
Below are photos of the Reflections chamber:
The last dark chamber is the Crystal Forest (The Wonder of the Elements). It might be common to think that nature and technology are opposing forces. But in this room of the Crystal World, Fabrizio Plessi created a fascinating symbiosis to bring them together. The natural tree trunks enclose a video installation which puts the elements on play as they crackle and glow. An inhabitant of the forest is the siphonophora called "Leviathan" by Thomas Feuerstein, which will greet you with a magnificent display of color and lights.
Zoology help: A siphonophora belongs to Phylum Cnidaria, a group of invertebrates that includes corals, hydroids, and true jellyfish. Some of the longest animals in the world are siphonophores :)
Below are photos of the siphonophora "Leviathan":
After the Crystal Forest, you will be brought back to the real world in Timeless Swarovski. This room tells the story of the family business. Starting with the founder Daniel Swarovski, you will trace the innovation and glamour embodied by the company since its founding. Clips from films and a wealthy exhibit can also be found, showing the story of crystal all in one space.
Following are some photos from the room. The fourth shows Swarovski products "for the boys" like binoculars (by Swarovski Optik):
The last but not the least, probably one of the most enjoyed by all visitors of the Crystal World: the largest Swarovski shop in the world. It is only here that you can explore the world of Swarovski products all in one roof. At the heart of the shop is the Crystal Stage.
You can also visit The Giant's Park which spreads around his enigmatic head. There is a maze, an adventure playground, and some works by famous artists diffused outside the Giant's subterranean realm. Below are the stream and giant maze.
I went back to the hotel with a new necklace. Got a € 2 discount by showing the Crystal World entrance ticket to the Crystal Stage cashier.