LDF15 >> Kim Thomé creates Zotem, with Swarovski at the V&A London

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LDF15 has arrived, and to kick off the week, Kim Thomé’s ‘Zotem’ installation was unveiled at the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington, London.

Swarovski announced their collaboration with emerging talent and RCA graduate, Kim Thomé on this landmark project earlier this month, and ‘Zotem’ has taken the form of an 18 metre high, lo-tech and high impact structure, positioned to rise vertically from the Grand Entrance up to the Contemporary Ceramics gallery, on the sixth floor as you enter through the revolving doors of this historic museum.

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Swarovski worked closely with Thomé on developing bespoke crystals for the concept, with 600 unique crystals produced for this piece. Kim’s development sketches can be seen above.

“How did the V&A space effect your design, how did it inspire what you have created?”

“I guess the grandness of the space obviously needed something large to have an impact, but it was important for me to use the space and the experience of the space that’s there already. When I first asked about the space that we would be using, I went up to the top on the ceramics floor. I had always found it quite hard to get up there even though it’s one of my favourite places in the V&A.

For me it was important that the motions of the crystal patterns actually lead your eye upwards. We though ‘let’s have a little cherry on top’, which is placed in the ceramics space. It’s actually the deviation from the standard pattern that leads you up to the top. It’s like an explosion of colour when it fans out. It’s going to be very interesting to bring people up to a space that they haven’t seen before, all because they would like to see the top end of the of this structure. It’s not a directly interactive piece, but it is designed to help people explore the building as well as the crystals.”

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The title, ‘Zotem’ is a word-blending of the sounds and meanings of ‘totem’ and ‘zoetrope’ – a 19th century animation device that pre-dates film and gives the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of isolated drawings that appear to move as they flick past the eye in quick succession.

The looping mechanism of Zotem, which is visible through the open sides of the structure, also references the traditional animation device.

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The piece was developed & manufactured at Millimetre in Brighton, England.

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The Manufacturing Process

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The installation comprises custom-made Swarovski crystals scaled up to 2.5 times their regular size and displayed in a grid pattern within a frame of matte black aluminium.

A roll of vividly printed mesh runs in a continuous loop inside the two aluminium faces – moving up one side and down the other. As light shines through the graphic mesh and the crystals, the pattern and colour is projected and distorted, creating a dynamic effect that brings the crystals to life.

The Installation

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A dynamic piece, designed to draw visitors’ eyes upwards. Rising and falling through the floors, prismatic colors and linear patterns are reflected and refracted by Swarovski crystals to create an entrancing visual illusion.

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“What do you want people to feel when the see the piece?”

“I’d like people to initially not to fully understand it, but then having been exposed to it I’d like them to try to engage with it and see maybe how this concept works, because in one way it is just a basic optical illusion. I guess I’d also like them to come away having been on the sixth floor of the V&A and having been amazed by the crystal, that’s the main part of it.”

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The London Design Festival is an annual event, held to celebrate and promote London as the design capital of the world and as the gateway to the international creative community. The London Design Festival this year runs from 19 – 27 September 2015.

Press Images > Mark Cocksedge > With thanks to Camron PR.

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