WATTENS, Austria — The crystal colossus Swarovski is set to unveil two new buildings and a work by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in its hometown of Wattens, Austria, in a bid to strengthen its relationships with business partners and elevate its brand in the eyes of consumers.
At Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds), Austria’s second most visited tourist destination, the company will debut Kusama’s Chandelier of Grief, rendered in Swarovski crystal and part of the artist’s Infinity Mirror Rooms series, which is wildly popular on social media.
Besides being an obvious publicity stunt, linking one of the world’s most famous artists to the brand, the chandelier showcases the level of artistry Swarovski says it has been able to achieve at one of the nearby buildings, the Manufaktur, which sits just next to Swarovski’s new design and innovation centre Campus 311 and its Crystal Factory of the Future, a crystal-cutting facility that is set to open in 2019. (The company has invested a total of €100 million in the three buildings).
The 7,000-square-metre Manufaktur, which was designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta, was conceived for what Markus Langes-Swarovski, member of the executive board and head of Swarovski Professional Business, called “professional romance” with partners like Christian Dior and BMW, which are a critical element of Swarovski’s strategy to burnish the creative credentials which help to make it a desirable consumer brand.
Our clients’ ideas are transformed into real crystal objects in a very short time — actual crystal creations with their true sparkle, touch and feel.
“The Manufaktur has allowed us to reduce prototyping time from an average of two weeks to 6 days, and we have set a record of producing a prototype in only 70 hours,” said Langes-Swarowski. “Our clients’ ideas are transformed into real crystal objects in a very short time — not just digital twins or plastic 3-D printed copies but actual crystal creations with their true sparkle, touch and feel.”
Founded in 1895 and still tightly controlled by the fifth generation of the Swarovski family, the Swarovski Crystal Business generated €2.7 billion in revenue in 2017 and employed 27,000 people across 170 countries and 3,000 stores worldwide. Together with Swarovski Optik and Tyrolit, the company forms the Swarovski Group, which generated revenues of about €3.5 billion in 2017.
Swarovski isn’t the only luxury business to pour investment into showcasing its craftsmanship. Earlier this month, LVMH staged the fourth edition of Les Journées Particulières, an initiative launched seven years ago by Antoine Arnault, head of communications and Image at LVMH, chief executive officer of Berluti and chairman of Loro Piana, to showcase the savoir-faire of the group’s brands to the public. And although Swarovski’s Manufaktur was initially conceived for professional collaborations, Langes-Swarovski says he is considering opening the facility to the general public once a year much like LVMH.
Editor's Note: This article was revised on October 24, 2018. A previous version of this article misstated that Swarovski’s new Manufaktur cost the company €100 million. This is incorrect. €100 million is the cost of all three of the company’s new buildings in Wattens: the Manufaktur, the new design and innovation centre Campus 311 and the Crystal Factory of the Future. The cost of the Manufaktur alone was €30 million.