Monday, July 1, 2013

A Vision in Crystal - Swarovski's PERSPECTIVES by John Pawson

Perspectives by John Pawson for Swarovski - Photo: Pedro Barrail
(Venice, Italy) Perhaps it's only natural that Swarovski, the world's leading crystal manufacturer, has an illuminated eye into the future. Inspired by one of the greatest architects of the past -- Andrea Palladio, who designed the 16th-century Church of San Giorgio Maggiore -- the largest Swarovski lens ever created  is at the center of Perspectives, a work of art by the minimalist architect John Pawson, running as a collateral event of the Biennale International Art Festival through November 24, 2013.

The installation is simply beautiful, one of the most beautiful man-made objects I have ever seen. The lens, a 40cm wide concave Swarovski crystal meniscus made from optical quality glass, is centered on top of a mirrored stainless-steel hemisphere that John Pawson himself says "almost looks like liquid mercury." Perspectives is positioned directly below the cupola, magnifying Palladio's concentric circles on the ceiling,  creating a dramatic optical experience.

The Swarovski Foundation Photo: Gilbert McCarragher
From Wikipedia:

The first church on the island was built about 790, and in 982, the island was given to the Benedictine order by the Doge Tribuno Memmo. The Benedictines founded a monastery there, but in 1223, all the buildings on the island were destroyed by an earthquake.

The church and monastery were rebuilt after the earthquake. The church, which had a nave with side chapels, was not in the same position as the present church, but farther back at the side of a small campo or square. There were cloisters in front of it, which were demolished in 1516. The monks were considering the rebuilding of the church from 1521.

Palladio arrived in Venice in 1560, when the refectory of the monastery was being rebuilt. He made great improvements to this and in 1565, was asked to prepare a model for a new church.
The model was completed and approved in 1566 and the foundation stone was laid in the presence of the Pope in the same year. The work was not finished before the death of Palladio in 1580, but the body of the church was complete by 1575, except for the choir behind the altar and the facade.
 
Perspectives by John Pawson for Swarovski Photo: Gilbert McCarragher
The newly-established Swarovski Foundation is another exciting example of how the world of fashion and luxury entwines nicely with the world of art and culture. Daniel Swarovski founded the company in 1895 in the magical alpine land of Wattens, Tyrol in Austria. Today, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the foundation is Nadja Swarovski, Daniel's great-great-grandaughter, a real dynamo.

From an April 25, 2013 article in the Wall Street Journal by Alexa Brazilian entitled A Day in the Life of Nadja Swarovski:

Photo: Louise Enhörning
LIKE THE PRECISION-CUT CRYSTAL her great-great grandfather developed in 1895—used in everything from bird-watching binoculars to couture dresses—Nadja Swarovski is seemingly everywhere these days. In any given week you'll find her jetting from London, where she lives with her husband and three young children, to meetings in Beijing, Paris, Los Angeles, New York or her native Wattens, in Tyrol, Austria, where the company is headquartered. Standing just under 6 feet tall, with a physique that defies her 42 years, she speaks five languages and is impervious to jet lag. Go to the WSJ to continue reading.

The first project the foundation has decided to take on is the restoration of poor Saint George standing on the dome of the church, who's missing an arm, among other indignities caused by over-affectionate birds. The project is due to be completed on April 23, 2014, Saint George's Day.

Swarovski Perspectives
 From the Swarovski Foundation's website:

"Swarovski's visionary founder Daniel Swarovski, who established the business in Wattens, Austria, in 1895, demonstrated a strong humanitarian instinct, ensuring that his business cared for its people and the local community. Since then, five generations of the Swarovski family have reinforced Daniel Swarovski's commitment to charitable giving, both within the community and in the wider realms of the environment, health, arts and culture. The Swarovski Foundation has been created to build on this heritage and it will support charitable projects under three main pillars: Fostering Culture and Creativity, Promoting Well-being and Human Rights, and Conserving Natural Resources." 

Hooking up with minimalist architect John Pawson to achieve these goals was a brilliant idea. The crystal lens and its hemisphere are magnificent in its simplicity; the Japanese element of Pawson's background feels perfectly at home in the majestic Palladian church.

John Pawson was born in 1949 in Halifax, Yorkshire. After a period in the family textile business he left for Japan, spending several years teaching English at the business university of Nagoya.
Towards the end of his time there he moved to Tokyo, where he visited the studio of Japanese architect and designer Shiro Kuramata. Following his return to England, he enrolled at the Architecture Association in London, leaving to establish his own practice in 1981.

Please enjoy this short clip of John Pawson giving his perspective on Perspectives:



Perspectives is an excellent example of how a company can create a positive, nurturing relationship with the fragile Venetian infrastructure. All the players involved, from Swarovski, to Pawson, to the monks of San Giorgio, reflect the highest qualities of humanity. By such behavior, the Swarovski brand associates its name with harmony, elegance and respect, setting a shining example for all businesses who wish to operate in Venice and her lagoon. Viewing Palladio's ceiling through the Swarovski crystal lens of Perspectives is like having a glimpse into the world of angels.

Nadja Swarovski views the statue of San Giorgio
PERSPECTIVES by John Pawson
for SWAROVSKI
in collaboration with Abbazia di San Giorgio Maggiore
Perspectives is shown as a collateral even of the 55th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia until November 24, 2013

Monday – Saturday: 8.30am – 6.30pm
Sunday: 8.30am – 10.30am 12.30pm – 6.30pm

Click for information on visiting Swarovski's Perspectives

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. The installation is simply beautiful, one of the most beautiful man-made objects I have ever seen. The lens, a 40cm wide concave Swarovski crystal meniscus made from optical quality glass, is centered on top of a mirrored stainless-steel hemisphere that John Pawson himself says "almost looks like liquid mercury." Perspectives is positioned directly below the cupola, magnifying Palladio's concentric circles on the ceiling, creating a dramatic optical experience.

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