In 2014 Chicago based architect Jeanne Gang was invited to come up with a concept for Swarovski’s Crystal Palace series at Design Miami. Gang and her team produced a concept that focused on the melting polar ice cap. Through her work, Gang wanted to bring awareness to the World’s declining glaciers and the effects that climate change has had worldwide. For the project, she teamed up with photographer and filmmaker James Balog who has his own initiatives for bringing global awareness to climate change; Balog has been working alongside Swarovski over the last 3 years carefully documenting the melting Stubai Glacier, located in the Austrian Alps.
Gang wanted to create an immersive experience that would focus the users attention on the impact that climate change has had on the Earth’s glacial landscapes. Orion’s challenge was to successfully bring this idea to life fully submerging users in the experience of being in a polar climate within a very tropical Miami climate.
COLLABORATING WITH SWAROVSKI GAVE US THE OPPORTUNITY TO HARNESS THE AWE-INSPIRING QUALITIES OF NATURE TO CREATE A SPACE FOR CONVERSATION AROUND THE CRYSTALLINE FORMATIONS WE ARE LOSING DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE EXTRAORDINARY CHALLENGE WE FACE IN ADDRESSING THIS ISSUE.
Orion engineered and produced 3 glacier shaped tables that were inlaid with both raw and finished crystals inside the glacial “thaw holes”, a term used for the phenomenon that occurs to glaciers when dark particles from the air collect on the surface and begin to melt the ice, which were lit from within the tables. The icy floor was made to look like ice sheets breaking apart as the glaciers melt. Each crack was lit with LED’s and filled with thousands of crystals to simulate the look of ice crystals. In order to bring a sense of reality to the exhibit, a large 70’ interactive media wall surrounded the tables, showing time lapse images of melting glaciers from around the world, from Balog’s work on the Extreme Ice Survey. To create an icy atmosphere, blue light emanated through the space to give it the feel of being in an arctic climate.
“WE’RE DELIGHTED TO COLLABORATE WITH JEANNE GANG ON THINNING ICE, A WORK WHICH CAPTURES THE HAUNTING BEAUTY OF THE EARTH’S THREATENED GLACIERS IN A POWERFUL, ALMOST ELEGIAC WAY…GANG DRAWS INSPIRATION FROM JAMES BALOG’S EPICALLY BEAUTIFUL PHOTOGRAPHS OF RECEDING ICE COVER, ADDRESSING THE TOPIC OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN A CAPTIVATING INSTALLATION THAT IS AS EDUCATIONAL AS IT IS STUNNING.”