Swarovski has had a history of tradition and success since the family-owned company was founded in 1895. Today, the fascination commanded by the crystal is greater than ever. In 1995, in response to ever-increasing interest, Swarovski created Swarovski Kristallwelten (Swarovski Crystal Worlds), where crystal becomes a complete experience. Innumerable visitors have traveled to Wattens/Tyrol, Austria, some of them from very far away, to visit the home of Swarovski crystal. Since then, this world of fantasy has delivered moments of wonder to more than 15 million visitors. Swarovski Crystal Worlds has since become one of Austria’s most frequently visited attractions. In keeping with the spirit of company founder Daniel Swarovski, it embraces the philosophy of continual innovation and development and has already gone through a number of structural enhancements. The largest expansion to date took place in 2015 on the occasion of Swarovski’s 120th anniversary, when the Swarovski Crystal Worlds grounds doubled in size with the addition of an extensive garden landscape.
Swarovski asked multimedia artist André Heller to develop an experiential concept. Heller’s thematic centerpiece for Swarovski Crystal Worlds was the shape of the Giant, a reference to his childhood in Vienna, during which he had always imagined that giants lived in the Schönbrunn Palace who wandered about at night and turned into stone during the day. Thinking along these lines, Heller developed the story of the Giant who left his home to experience the world and all of its treasures and wonders. The world of wonders now stretches across 7.5 hectares and features a variety of facets. In the Chambers of Wonder, it’s possible to experience the magic of crystal as it has never been seen before. Surrounding this experiential realm of crystal one finds the expansive garden landscape, which features unique art installations that create an inviting atmosphere in which visitors may relax and linger. One of the highlights is the Crystal Cloud, which consists of around 800,000 hand-mounted crystals. South of the iconic Giant, the play-tower and the innovative outdoor playground landscape offer children of all ages plenty of space to play and climb. The sun-kissed pavilion embedded in the garden surrounds Daniels Kristallwelten and frames the view of the surrounding landscape. The creative energy of Swarovski’s international network and many extraordinary personalities is reflected in the poetic design and stylistic idiom of the expanded Swarovski Crystal Worlds. Carla Rumler, Cultural Director Swarovski and Curator Swarovski Crystal Worlds, was responsible for the curation and artistic direction of the entire area. Internationally renowned and regional artists and designers from the contemporary art scene, as well as famous architects, have left their creative marks in the garden of the Giant. Architects s_o_s architekten are responsible for the visitor arrival area. Based on the creative approach of designer duo CAO PERROT in combining art and landscape architecture to create spaces for dreaming, they have placed a wide and expansive roof resting on birch trunks as a threshold to the garden and to the Grand Plaza in front. Visitors making their way through the garden of the Giant, surrounded by the blossoming colorfulness of the different types of plants conceived by the British garden designer Tony Howard, can marvel at objects from such artists as Werner Feiersinger, Sylvie Fleury, Bruno Gironcoli, Martin Gostner, and Alois Schild. The crowning piece of the new garden is the Crystal Cloud, created by Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot. This monumental installation, consisting of some 800,000 hand-mounted Swarovski crystals, drifts above the black Mirror Pool, inviting visitors to pause for a moment and be inspired. With a surface of around 1,400 square meters, this mystical masterpiece is the largest work of its kind in the world. A descending path draws visitors to the Mirror Pool where the crystals’ light is captured like stars shimmering in the nocturnal sky – even in broad daylight. They are accompanied by 2,000 sparkling crystal fireflies dancing through the air. The garden of the Giant enhances the existing selection of educational tools specially geared to children all around the Crystal Studio. This context inspired the creation of an entirely new building “typology” by the renowned architectural offices of Snøhetta: a play-tower and an innovative open-air playground.