June 8, 2010
Originally created by Andre Heller as a gift to employees, collectors, customers and partners in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Swarovski in 1995, Swarovski Crystal Worlds is a tourist attraction visited by thousands of people from all over the world every day. It’s located in the small town of Wattens, just outside Innsbruck.
Andre Heller based the design of the Crystal World on the chamber of wonders in Ambras Castle – that’s the big room of bizarre and unique treasures that Archduke Ferdinand collected from all over the world.
The “Ruler” of this magical realm is the Giant, an archaic figure straight from Tyrollean mythology.
The Literature Wall features words from authors like Shakespeare, Novalis and Goethe. The word “crystal” plays a part in each, which are displayed in Italian, German, Spanish, French and English.
Next is the Centenary, the world’s largest ever manufactured crystal. It weighs a massive 300,000 carats, has a diameter of 40 cm and features 100 hand-polished facets to symbolize a century of Swarovski.
The Crystal Wall is the longest of its kind in the world. Millions of precision-cut crystals sparkle from behind the 11 by 42 meter long transparent wall. A jeweled Black Stallion is a replica of a valuable jewel commissioned by an Indian Maharajah as a tribute to his favorite horse.
Later we encounter a bizarre mechanical theater is the creation of Jim Whiting, a famed Paris artist. It portrays a surrealistic fashion show in which mechanical men and women display a life of their own and clothes suddenly fly and dance through the air. Whiting is trying to convey the relationship of man to woman in this display.
With 590 mirrors in a convex hall, the Crystal Dome is a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds where light and sound is reflected in all directions. The music of Brian Eno plays in the background. Just outside the Crystal Dome is a tree called Winter’s Dream and it’s covered in thousands of Swarovski crystals on polished steel branches.
The Crystaloscope is another creation of Andre Heller, together with a psychiatrist. It depicts the thoughts of the giant. Special crystals serve as the basis for this the worlds largest kaleidoscope.
Next we enter the Crystal Theater, which is the brainchild of Austrian painter Susanne Schmogner. She has created a mysterious poetic fairytale world full of color and movement. Each scene depicts a fantasy dream that you can experience.
Crystal Calligraphy is a creation by American glass artist, Paul Seide. The display depicts the desire to overcome all language barriers. It is a language of blue-green light movements. The verse on the wall comes from the poem “The Wine of Lovers” by Charles Baudelaire.
An interactive Ice Passage was created by Tyrollean artist Oliver Irschitz. Crystalline traces appear on the floor as you walk.
One room shows off some of the Giant’s treasures, like the giant’s walking stick and accordion. His crystal ring is also on display, as well as his beautifully handcrafted gloves.
55 Million Crystals is a creation of world-renowned musical artist Brian Eno, whose music fills the background spaces here. Hand-painted panels and computer-controlled light patterns merge to create a forest of images.
Reflections is a display of 300 surfaces of 48 crystalline polyhedrons with pictures, diagrams, and multimedia animations projected on them. It represents the conflict between humans and crystals and the human fascination with all things crystalline throughout science, mathematics, chemistry, religion and the imagination.
Italian video artist, Fabrizio Plessi created a dark room called the Crystal Forest. It’s about the elements of fire, water, and crystal. The mirrors and the suspended tree trunks make you feel like you are in a deep dark forest.
At the end of our visit to the Crystal Worlds, we end up in Swarovski’s massive gallery and boutique. Famous Swarovski creations through the last 100 years are on display here.
Video from our visit: