A member of, and spokesperson for, the Swarovski Executive Board since 2002, Markus Langes-Swarovski is responsible for Swarovski Professional Business, and the d. swarovski tourism services GmbH. Since 2010, he has also been a member of the advisory board of the Swarovski Group.
It’s a very special year for Swarovski: unbelievably, 2015 is its 120th birthday. We asked Daniel Swarovski’s great-great-grandson Markus Langes-Swarovski to explain how the company had attained its venerable age while maintaining such a youthful disposition—not to mention pole position in the market—and for his vision of the future.
On being driven to succeed
We’re very proud to be looking back at 120 years of Swarovski this year. We’ve had so many successes in so many different segments that demonstrate our leadership: these give us the strength, experience, security and self-confidence on which to build our future.
On what it takes to stay at the forefront of product innovation
Before we launch any innovation there’s a lot of work to do: we invest heavily in trend research and creative product development because we know that innovation is our strength—it lies at the heart of our company. We love to inspire our customers and give them the means of reinventing themselves and their products. It’s a real challenge for the whole team to set up the process required to grow a tiny idea into the final product. There are three main ways of generating ideas: we have our own teams dedicated to the innovation process, of course, but we also have an internal ‘ideas platform’ to which every employee can contribute: in fact, 2015 will see the launch of something that originally came from a colleague in a totally different unit. But the most important way to create new ideas has always been, and will always be, working closely with our customers and being creative together in order to match their needs perfectly. For example, Christian Dior was involved in developing the Aurora Borealis effect in the 1950s. Since then we’ve developed several innovations with renowned designers such as Versace, Armani and Jean Paul Gaultier. We’ve also just launched something totally revolutionary—the smallest crystal the world has ever seen. It's called Xero, and it’s literally the size of a pen tip, which makes it perfect for working on intricate designs such as watches.
On upcoming innovation highlights that will have an impact this year
We’ll celebrate our anniversary with our business partners with two big launches completely dedicated to ‘120 Years of Inspiration’: these will be a surprise for our partners, but I can say that I’m really proud of the products we’ll be launching, as they are designed to answer the many different needs of a diverse range of customers, giving them a toolbox of outstanding products to use. In May, we’ll also be marking Swarovski Crystal Worlds’ twenty-year success story with the next stage in its evolution. I’m looking forward to seeing the magical new wonders that the rejuvenated Giant will be giving us. It will be a year of sparkling festivity, with inspirational creative meetings with customers and designers.
On what Swarovski might look like 120 years from now—a first branch office on the moon?
Who knows! On November 23, 2014, the Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, a member of Expedition 42/43, sacrificed some space in her precious luggage allowance to take our Tiuterra Crystals to the International Space Station—the first time crystals had ever journeyed into Earth’s atmosphere! Back in 1895 when he launched the business, I’m sure Daniel Swarovski never thought that this would ever happen, or that Swarovski would expand into an international company with around 30,000 employees worldwide. He was a pioneer with a great mind, and he always saw the big picture. We’re living in a time where things change faster than ever before—this also applies both to our business and our customers’ businesses. Our big challenge is to always stay a step ahead. So, in terms of the future, anything is possible—we are prepared.