Our new manufacturing facility designed by Norwegian architects Snøhetta incarnates an era of co-creation.When Daniel Swarovski, both a visionary artist and technologist, founded the company in the remote Tyrolean town of Wattens in 1895 it was in order to take advantage of local hydroelectricity – and the isolation necessary to protect trade secrets. For the past 123 years, access to the production facility which creates the world’s most artfully cut crystals has been strictly limited. But times change and the most progressive companies change with them: the recently unveiled Swarovski Manufaktur incarnates a new era of openness and co-creation. Designed by award-winning Norwegian architects, Snøhetta, the Manufaktur is a vast, hangar-like space topped by an expansive glass ceiling through which sunlight streams unimpeded. State-of-the art engineering has reduced the need for internal walls so that sight-lines are virtually uninterrupted; luminous and exhilarating, it is a symbolic as well as physical evocation of a new transparency. The entire interior design was carried out together with Snøhetta under the direction of Carla Rumler, Swarovski’s Cultural Director. “Manufaktur represents a cultural change,” says Markus Langes-Swarovski, Member of the Executive Board. “It’s a new space that allows us to physically co-create with our clients in real time, producing prototypes of their ideas on the spot.” By incorporating all the best of technologies like rapid prototyping machinery, product showrooms and meeting spaces under one big roof in ahybrid building, Manufaktur enables Swarovski clients to become actively engaged in the production process, entering into what Langes-Swarovski likes to call “a professional romantic relationship” with the brand. Swarovski deliberately turned the idea of the production process upside down in order to make it possible to co-create more closely – both internally and externally.“This entails a completely new typology of work” says Langes-Swarovski. “For us, Manufaktur represents a holistic way of cutting through the complexities of today’s world of work. This offers an entirely new level of customized service.”
“It’s a new space that allows us to physically co-create with our clients in real time, producing prototypes of their ideas on the spot.”
Manufaktur is linked by a suspended footbridge to a new development and innovation centre called Campus 311, the formerly secluded crystal-cutting building which has been transformed into an airy, open structure which now also houses the design, project management and sales & marketing teams. Ultra-modern light installations by avant-garde British studio, Fredrikson & Stallard signal the company’s commitment to technological elegance.
Nearby, the new 36.000 m² crystal-cutting facility,is on track for inauguration in 2019. Langes-Swarovski refers to it as “the crystal factory of the future”. Taken together, these three new or revamped, architecturally superb buildings represent an investment of €100 million in the future of the home the company, and an unshakeable commitment to the rapport between Swarovski and its clients. “It really is setting a new standard for inclusive fabrication facilities,” Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, founding partner of Snøhetta told Wallpaper* magazine. “Bringing clients, designers, artists, researchers, machine operators, technicians and the public under one roof is going to change how we think about these relationships in the future.” Snøhetta is renowned for the radical beauty of its buildings which include the Oslo Opera House, Egypt’s Biblioteca Alexandrina and the headquarters of the Le Monde newspaper, Paris. They also delivered the dramatic, faceted concrete and glass play tower at Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds) – one of Austria’s most visited attractions after the Schönbrunn palace – in 2015. “We already knew that they understood our culture and philosophy,” says Langes-Swarovski. “Their work is visually bold and shaped by human interaction. Fundamental to everything they do is a commitment to sustainability. It’s this common ethos that made them a perfect match for what we had in mind. “Winston Churchill once said, ‘we shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us’. Manufaktur is the embodiment of this idea.”
Stephen Todd, Design Editor