Bohemia has long been known for its glass and crystal, though the industry has been struggling. A relative newcomer is mixing tradition and technology to revive the sector.
The Czech company Lasvit has just completed building two giant crystal-covered dragons fighting over a pearl. It was custom built for a casino in Saipan, an island in the Pacific Ocean.
The project for the Imperial Palace Casino took three years of work and involved and hundreds of Czech employees to bring it to completion. According to company, it is the biggest jewel piece in the world. They are aiming to get it listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
“Two dragons inside the atrium of a casino in the middle of the Pacific on Saipan island. Each of them on a scale that the world has not seen before. Each of them with a length of 50 meters and a strict weight limit of 20 tons per dragon. And on top of that, all of that is within an earthquake area with frequent typhoons,” Pavel Kacíř, Lasvit’s regional manager for Europe, said.
The installation should be able to withstand a magnitude 7 earthquake. Due to the strict requirements, design changes were not possible when the plan was transformed into reality. “We pushed for the limits of the technical possibilities,” Kacíř said.
The final product is a blend of traditional craft and new technology both in design and implementation. “We approached the limits of what is both technically and physically possible. Master glassmakers and metalsmiths brought the know-how of hundreds of years of craft tradition, while their work was supported by a high-tech design process throughout,” Lasvit founder and president Leon Jakimič said.
The metal dragon frameworks are covered with 13,000 stainless steel scales and 2.5 million crystals of a type that would normally have been used for earrings.
The crystals are backed with red, green, blue and white (RGBW) LED chips, so the dragons can be lit from head to tail and change colors in various ways.
Lasvit R&D director Pavel Sedlák said all LED chips can be controlled by computer. “The result is one big screen. The screen has 300,000 LED chips. The total colored surface area is 700 square meters. While the standard TV screen is flat, this one is curved,” he said.
Installation manager Jiří Štys said that putting the artwork in place took six months. “We had to figure out how to even just lift these huge two-ton parts up in a room that is virtually finished. During the installation … we spent a quarter of the time inside the dragons. Closed inside a swinging dragon for 10 hours, there were moments when we fought seasickness,” he said.
Lasvit was founded in 2007, and the name is combination of the Czech words for love and light. The company describes itself as a “creative hub of glassmaking talents, fresh ideas, and daring designs.”
They specialize in the design and manufacture of custom lighting installations. The company works with famous Czech and international designers such as the Campana Brothers, Kengo Kuma, Yabu Pushelberg, Nendo and Ross Lovegrove to produce lamps, decorative and utility glass, glass architectural elements and glass art objects. In 2017 the company through a merger acquired its own glassworks in Lindava in the Liberec region.
The company in 2018 won the Milan Design Award for its Monster Cabaret.”Being given this award just underlines our vision to be the most inspirational glassmaking company in the world,” Lasvit founder Jakimič said at the time.
The company also makes trophies and glass awards, including the Thalia Award for theater and trophies for the Tour de France.