For the 10th anniversary of Design Miami, December 3-7, 2014, and marking nine years of participation in this leading contemporary design festival, Swarovski displayed its longstanding commitment to water conservation in an unforgettable way: Thinning Ice is an immersive installation that highlights our rapidly melting polar ice caps.
It’s a collaboration with architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang and National Geographic photographer James Balog, part of an ongoing Swarovski project for which Balog was commissioned to photographically document the shrinking Stubai glacier as a contribution to his Extreme Ice Survey. Situated amid the splendor of the Austrian Alps, it also happens to be home to the crystal company’s headquarters.
Gang brought her unique vision to the creative process, transforming Balog’s awe-inspiring images of melting ice sheets into a three-dimensional experience consisting of a central glacier-like table made from five large raw crystal pieces lit by a Swarovski crystal and Swarovski LED lighting system. The smooth, glacier-like table is fashioned from asymmetric ‘frozen’ crystal blocks punctured by ‘thaw holes,’ incorporating glittering pavé crystal designs along with an assortment of large loose finished crystals. In all, around 230 pounds (104 kg) of loose Swarovski crystals were used in the installation floor, along with 5 large pre-cut crystal “chunks” and an array of crystals in the table.
Thinning Ice’s shocking beauty is a compelling reflection of the patterns featured in the epic photographs and video footage that wrap the walls. It’s also a salutary reminder of the grave implications of the planet’s receding ice sheets, prompting observers to properly contemplate the consequences of global warming.