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Brief Published: 29 Nov 2018

Designers Harvest Crystals to Craft Unique Products


A desire for the unpredictable and imperfect is leading to explorations in ‘live’ materials that grow and develop in organic ways. We spotlight three influential projects where designers are harvesting crystals as part of their design process.

  • Live Exhibition: Prague-based design studio Zorya explores the crystallisation process of salts to create unique and opulent crystal jewellery. Using the same process, the studio grew a crystal chandelier on-site at the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Dresden as part of an exhibition called From Dust to Glitter, or How a Crystal Chandelier Grows (August 25 to 2 November). Stainless steel arms were submerged in a potassium aluminium sulphate solution, and then alum crystals built up over time, coating the framework. Visitors could witness the crystals growing over the course of the exhibition. The chandelier is now part of the museum’s permanent collection.

  • Additive Manufacturing: At Dutch Design Week 2018, Eindhoven-based designer Felix Mollinga presented a series of lampshades formed using two additive techniques: 3D printing and mineral crystal formation, where material is built up layer by layer. 3D printing is used to create the precise, gridded frameworks of the lampshades. The crystals are then left to grow across the frameworks, forming an organic skin on each lamp. See LDF 2017: Colour & Materials for more products created by influencing crystal formations.
  • Grown Clothes: Dutch fashion designer Tim Dekkers has developed a process of growing artificial material to create sculptural garments. Through a chemical process, he harvests a polyurethane mixture that expands to create white, organic-like forms reminiscent of coral and stalagmites. The mixture is left to grow over the clothes, forming unpredictable effects. He also uses alum to grow crystal-like formations across his garments.

We previously reported on London-based designer Alice Potts, who uses human sweat crystals to create embellished, crystallised apparel and footwear. See her work in our S/S 20 Fashion Forecast Recharge.

Tim Dekkers
Felix Mollinga