European Business: Swarovski has always been known for the secrecy surrounding its production methods. Since October, visitors have been able to watch your jewellery being made. What are the reasons behind this step?
Swarovski: With the Swarovski Manufaktur that was officially opened in Wattens in October 2018, we have created a space for inspiration and co-creation that helps our clients transform their ideas into a real crystal object in the shortest possible time. With the help of the latest production technologies, crystal production has been taken to the next level. In the future, tailored crystal innovations can be created quickly together with the client and Swarovski’s own in-house designers before going into mass production in the Crystal Factory of the Future. The significant improvements to production efficiency and energy reduction through the whole process will ring in a new era of development opportunities. Since 1995, visitors have been welcomed to Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens where crystal becomes a holistic experience. So far, more than 14 million visitors have come and been amazed by the magical spectacle. The mixture of art and culture, entertainment, shopping and culinary, from various attractions for all ages, for fans and art lovers, makes the Swarovski Crystal Worlds unique in the entire world.
"Since 1995, visitors have been welcomed to Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens where crystal can be experienced in all its fascinating facets." Swarovski
European Business: From Austria, you sell your products in 170 countries. How do the needs and wishes of your customers differ from one country to the next and what peculiarities do you have to cater for?
Swarovski: Swarovski designs, manufactures and sells the world’s highest quality crystal, genuine stones, synthetic diamonds and created stones as well as finished products such as jewelry, accessories, and lighting solutions. Swarovski products are available in 170 countries around the world. Our product range therefore encounters a range of different consumer cultures. That is why Swarovski works very closely with local markets and tailors its response to individual needs. Its efforts include the creation of regional collections and brand partnerships to develop new lines. A broad spectrum of marketing activities for each market makes this possible. This includes, for example, partnerships with local designers and artists.
"Through a combination of artisanal expertise, state-of-the-art technology and artistic design, Swarovski creates unique pieces from crystal." Swarovski
European Business: At Swarovski, handcraftsmanship meets art. Most recently, Daniel Libeskind designed the star on top of the traditional Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center in New York. How does this kind of cooperation with artists come about?
Swarovski: The timelessly modern Swarovski Crystals have become an indispensable part of the world of fashion and design and have long been considered a creative material in their own right. Through a combination of artisanal expertise, state-of-the-art technology and artistic design, Swarovski creates unique pieces from crystal that showcase multiple shapes, cuts, colours and decors and launch design trends. Through the 20th century, Swarovski developed a close and highly fruitful cooperation with many icons of fashion design such as Chanel, Schiaparelli and Christian Dior. Together with Dior, Swarovski developed a special stone called the Aurora Borealis. Today, crystal is still a popular design element with designers all over the world. Traditional fashion houses such as Yves Saint Laurent, Armani, Versace, Gucci and Prada are just as fond of sprinkling sparkles over their designs as innovative designers like Hussein Chalayan or Jimmy Choo.
"The Swarovski Waterschool offers an inspirational educational programme through which young people learn how to use water sustainably." Swarovski
European Business: Social responsibility and care for the environment play an important role at Swarovski. The Swarovski Waterschool is one such project. Why do you feel an affinity for water?
Swarovski: Water is of central importance for Swarovski. Since the company was founded in 1895, Swarovski has used hydro power to supply the energy for its production machinery. The central water circulation system and a closed water recycling process for grinding and polishing have been in operation since 1990 and reduce the amount of water we draw from the public network. The Swarovski Waterschool was founded in 2000 and offers an inspirational educational programme through which young people learn how to use water sustainably. These schools are located close to seven important waterways around the world and work together with local NGO partners to empower children, families and schools everywhere to protect the world’s most precious resource and become leaders in sustainable development. In the last 18 years, 500,000 children and young people in Austria, Brazil, China, India, Thailand, Uganda and the USA have taken part in the programme.
Interview: Vera Gaidies Photos: Swarovski