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.

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Studio Gang comes to Orion to discuss progress and to make final material and placement choices for crystal pieces. They look over plans with an Orion employee and talk about the next move and final touches.

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Large pieces of raw crystal; during the crystal making process large pieces of excess crystal fall off from the pieces that are cut. These pieces were inlaid into the recesses on the table tops to represent melting ice.

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Pictures of real meltwater thaw holes and sketches of the installation lie together on top of the unfinished wood pieces that would eventually become the top for the glacier tables.

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Prototypes are set up for flooring choices. The flooring for the installation was to have crystal filled, LED cracks that would flow throughout the entire floor of the exhibit.

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.  

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The pieces of the tables carefully coming together in Orion’s shop.

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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.
–Jeanne Gang

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Acrylic pieces for the floor are cut and ready to be assembled.

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Pieces of the floor start to come together.

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.

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“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.”
–Nadja Swarovski

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