Swarovski named five students as winners of the Conscious Design program: Sean Ross for Solar Furnace (MA Material Futures); Imogen Burch for ‘Creating Clarity’ (BA Jewellery Design); Hannah Livesey for ‘This Little Light of Mine’ (BA Textile Design – Weave); Sissel Gustavsen for ‘Precious Fish’ (BA Textile Design – Print); and Millicent Saunders for ‘Construction Rebellion’ (BA Textile Design – Knit).
The Conscious Design program was integrated into the curriculum of the Jewellery, Textiles and Materials Programme at Central Saint Martins, UAL over a period of six months. Each student was challenged to create work that takes Swarovski upcycled crystal as its starting point, embracing sustainable materials and concepts that have a positive social impact and address real business challenges.
Designed to inspire and educate, the program featured briefing presentations followed by lectures for each course on the theme of Conscious Design, co-curated by Swarovski and Central Saint Martins and delivered by expert guest speakers including Greg Valerio, Fairtrade Gold advocate, and Wilson Oryema, artist and writer.
Wilson Oryema mentored the students throughout the design process and provided creative feedback on their first presentations alongside Central Saint Martins tutors and Swarovski representatives. Short-listed students then presented their final work to a judging panel, who selected the winners.
As part of the program, students contributed to the Swarovski Conscious Design Hub, an online platform on Central Saint Martins’ website curated by Wilson Oryema and Swarovski.
The open source hub contains insight on the research and creative process of the students’ projects and inspiration for conscious design initiatives, showcased through video, research and design work.
Through the Conscious Design program, Swarovski aims to nurture the next generation of conscious designers who will contribute towards a more sustainable industry.
Wilson Oryema commented: “The principles of Conscious Design are needed now more than ever. It has been a great opportunity to learn more about the concept, and work with Swarovski on this project at Central Saint Martins. From start to finish, it has been incredibly inspiring. Seeing the initial reactions from students, to how they each took the brief in a unique direction, to then seeing the many innovative final projects. I am very excited to see where they, and future students, take Conscious Design to next.”
Material Futures (MA)
Students were challenged to explore the power of light through the medium of Swarovski crystal. As future thinkers, these students were asked to develop innovations that harness the potential of light and may inform new technological or scientific processes.
Sean Ross designed Solar Furnace, a conceptual installation to use the power of crystal to harness light to create synthetic gems. A large satellite dish covered in mirror-backed Swarovski crystals reflects sunlight into a second smaller dish, which reflects sunlight back through a glass Fresnel lens. This lens focuses the solar energy into a crucible where solar fusion takes place to create the gem.
Jewellery Design (BA)
Students were challenged to create jewelry pieces that combine upcycled Swarovski crystals with other materials, in particular ‘future materials’ that may be zero waste, environmentally friendly or part of the circular economy.
Imogen Burch designed Creating Clarity, a range of rings that highlight the issue of climate change. Angular gold frames are set with upcycled Swarovski crystal stones. Each crystal is engraved with words connected to a poem called ‘Dear Climate’ written by Burch to accompany the project. The rings are a tool for discussion as well as a personal reminder of the wearer’s commitment to sustainability.
Textile Design (BA)
Students were challenged to develop new crystal applications in print, weave and knit designs that celebrate cultural fusions in the city of London, working the concepts of sustainability and social purpose into their design story.
Hannah Livesey designed This Little Light of Mine, a structural weave designed to enhance the beauty of natural light. Natural yarns were colored with natural dyes, including turmeric powder and blueberries, which will biodegrade more easily than synthetic fibers. Upcycled crystals were woven throughout the fabric to reflect light on surrounding surfaces and complement the design.
Sissel Gustavsen designed Precious Fish, a decorative wallpaper embellished with Swarovski crystals for home or hospitality interiors. The artistic design celebrates the wonder of fish and sea creatures that we should admire and protect. It is a creative reminder that seafood is something we should enjoy in moderation to prevent overfishing.
Millicent Saunders designed Construction Rebellion, an upcycled fabric to be used for green walls and plant pots. The design is created from reflective waste materials from construction sites, such as hi-vis jackets, knitted together with colorful Swarovski crystals. The fabric is designed to reduce air pollution while also attracting wildlife, helping to mitigate the negative effects of construction on the environment.