swarovski and design miami/basel have announced the three winners of the 2018 swarovski designers of the future award: frank kolkman, an experimental dutch designer specializing in robotic technology; study o portable, a research based dutch-japanese practice making objects about the environment; and yosuke ushigome of takram, a japanese technologist specializing in emerging innovations.


the winners’ projects are presented as a wholistic installation at design miami/basel 2018
all images by mark cocksedge

 

 

this year’s winners, selected for their ability to implement pioneering concepts, have responded to the theme of ‘smart living’ through the use of crystal technologies — including psycho activation techniques, touch crystal and energy crystal. in developing their project, the winning designers were invited to use swarovski’s diverse resources to create a prototype or statement that illustrates new ways of existing with each other and our environment. swarovski worked closely with each designer in supporting their creative process.


study o portable investigates how crystals can create a blurring of light and color

 

 

presented as a complete installation at design miami/basel, the winners are unveiling their projects within a holistic environment. the installation explores the relationships between human behavior and smart living technologies, questioning if crystal innovations can make the way we live our lives smarter, more interactive, sustainable, immersive and accessible. talking to designboom, nadja swarovski, member of swarovski’s executive board , mentions, ‘it’s always so exciting to see these seemingly random ideas, but then see how beautifully and realistically they are converted into reality.’ while swarovski notes that the designs are meant to be exhibition pieces, not created for commercial purposes, she explains that ‘the technology that is implemented within a certain design will be commercial.’ on the topic of artistic freedom, swarovski points out that there is complete acceptance of the designers’ ideas, followed by ensuring that the ideas can be linked with the brand’s technology. ‘coming from the art world, we totally respect the source of the creation, we are only trying to make the crystal the medium of their creative expression,’ she notes.


the studio pursued a more analogue approach in response to what smart living entails

 

 

responding to the brief of ‘smart living’, study o portable has worked with swarovski technology to investigate how crystals can create a blurring of light and color. associating fading colors with nature — such as the sunset or changing leaves on a tree — the designers created a series of surfaces that are translated into objects, such as screens, a table and lights. embracing the emotional impact of crystals, the studio pursued a more analogue approach in response to what ‘smart living’ means in society today. ‘our idea was to use the material and cutting technology to create something that has different facets, a different look, depending on how and where from you look at it’ explain tetsuo mukai and bernadette deddens, founders of study o portable. ‘smart living is constantly coupled with technology, a word that is constantly referencing the digital, and we forget often about all other technologies, such as color technology, cutting technology and so on,’ the duo mentions, ‘that’s why we wanted to do something analogue, that could be about smart living, but also about other technologies.’


image ©  designboom

 

 

meanwhile, frank kolkman is unveiling ‘dream machine’, an immersive crystal installation that generates light and sound patterns from swarovski crystals. these patterns are synchronized with alpha and theta brainwaves to allow individuals to enter a state of deep relaxation or ‘artificial dreaming’. kolkman explores a potential interface of swarovski crystal with neurobiology, neuropsychology and psycho-activation techniques, and attempts create a smart solution for coping with the cognitive demands of modern life. ‘the theme of smart living is usually associated with more and more technologies coming into the home, making our everyday experience more seamless and efficient,’ says kolkman, ‘but efficiency makes sense in a business environment, not so much in a home,’ he continues, ‘the idea was to do the alternative, and say that because more technologies are entering our homes, causing more stress and anxiety, it might also mean that we need to develop smarter ways to relax.’ ‘we are using a process called brainwave synchronization, where by creating flickering patterns and specific frequencies of sound we can actually trick the brain to start producing particular levels of brainwaves, especially alpha and theta, which are the ones associated with deep sleep or deep relaxation,’ explains the designer, ‘the crystals are rotating at a particular speed and thereby reflect the light in a flickering pattern.’


study o portable associated fading colors with nature

 

 

yosuke ushigome’s ‘the home shrine’ investigates the potential of crystal as an alternative interaction between human and machines that occurs within a traditional smart home environment. as opposed to voice-command capabilities common to devices such as amazon echo and google home, the project fully utilizes the inherent, emotional quality of crystals to examine the behavior between humans and machine technology. ‘how we perceive those assistants and how we they represented is very much controlled by tech giants,’ explains yosuke ushigome, ‘I was wondering how we can create a more familiar interface for them, or even spiritual, rooted in human society and history.’ ‘a crystal has this seemingly natural form, you want to touch it, which I find quite interesting as a property when it comes to designing an interface – it naturally attracts people’s attention,’ the designer points out.


study o portable created a series of surfaces that are translated into objects


frank kolkman is unveiling ‘dream machine’ at design miami/basel 
image ©  designboom


the immersive crystal installation generates light and sound patterns from swarovski crystals


image ©  designboom


patterns are synchronized with alpha and theta brainwaves to allow individuals to enter a state of deep relaxation


kolkman explores a potential interface of swarovski crystal with neurobiology


yosuke ushigome is presenting the project ‘the home shrine’ 


the project investigates the potential of crystal as an alternative interaction between human and machines


the object fully utilizes the inherent, emotional quality of crystals


the designer sought to examine the behavior between humans and machine technology


yosuke ushigome’s reflection in the crystal
image ©  designboom

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