Dutch designer Marcel Wanders is a man of many ideas. His designs are born at his studio in Amsterdam and from there make their way all over the globe, whether it's in the shape of a set of utilities, ornamental furniture or as interior design, from private apartments to entire hotels.
Some time ago Marcel asked me to make a design for a mosaic wall for his own, ground floor apartment. A 9.8 by 32.8 feet wall, about 3 by 10 in meters. Quite a leap from my usual size of canvas! But luckily the original artwork needed to be only a fraction of the actual size, so to get the best effect of the 0.4" (appr. 1 cm) square, glass Bisazza stones.
The Italian Bisazza stones come in a variety of types, from solid flat colours, gold and silver, to stones with a more layered structure of hues and accents. The latter, 'natural' type was used for the wall. This makes the mosaic interesting from up close as well, where it's harder to make out individual shapes. (The fish eye detail at the top of this post is a good representation of such detail).
Marcel requested the use of Bisazza's Swarovski crystal stones in the design. The amount of stones was limited, plus the facets of the crystals, being placed on the wall, would catch light differently compare to 'free standing' crystals. So placing was extra important.
After sketching a couple of options I choose to go for a 'pixy dust' meets 'fog patch' solution; thin string-like clouds of crystal that would float through the fauna of my design. In this way the crystals would not interfere with the image and would have a role on their own, like an added layer.
Below are some snapshots for your viewing pleasure. (I took these right after the wall was installed when the living space was still under construction).
Above: the original artwork, the 'secret garden' for Marcels apartment. I did not want a perfect depth or a tromp l'oeil effect but a more playful, diorama like perspective. In that way the viewer experiences different layers depending on where he/she stands.
Although the original for this wall was handmade, the computer played an important role as preview tool. After all, pixels are similar to mosaic stones. Bisazza's own software turned the solid digital dots into the layered glass squares, giving the original artwork its own twist.
One of the Bisazza employees that came over to install the wall.
The stones were selected at the factory and prepaired on paper mats. Attaching the stones to the wall was fairly simple that way, it only took a weekend.
The crystal sketches. I placed a dark layer on top of the digital PSD document and dot-dot-dotted different shapes with white paintbrush and made a print out. In this way I had an idea of what I could do with a certain amount of crystals and at the same time keep an eye on the total picture.
I used stickers to 'sketch' the shape of the clouds. Lo tech and practical but also very eye straining.
The Bisazza boys removed the coloured stones I marked and replaced them with the crystals.
The result is subtle. You see light sparkling strokes when you walk pass the wall.