Saturday, September 13, 2008

Adolf Schonbek & Daniel Swarovski, Two Of Bohemia's Great Contribution To Objets d' Arts


We celebrated our 15 year anniversary in Salzburg & Vienna Austria in February 2005. Both city's were covered with beautiful icy blue snow that glistened in the winter sun like Austrian crystal. Salzburg is truly a magical town. We spent 5 days there. We visited the home where Mozart grew up as a child.

Of course, we could not leave the city without taking the Sound of Music tour. It was great to visit the site of one of our childhood favorite musicals. From Salzburg, we took the Euro-rail through the Austrian countryside, out of the Alps and through hills and the Vienna Woods that border the city. We could almost hear Strause as the forests cleared and we entered the train station. We spent 9 days in the city of Vienna staying at the beautiful Imperial Palace Hotel. It was a former residence to the Royals of Austria. The Habsburg splendor did not disappoint. Located on the Ringstrasse which is a circular boulevard situated on the site where part of the original wall stood that surrounded medieval Vienna. The hotel's Imperial restaurant is where we had our best dinner. The food and service was superb. Austria's past wealth and power was evident in the spectacular monuments that surrounded the old city. In the Schoenbrunn and the Hofburg palaces the glitter of Bohemian crystal was everywhere. It was magnificent. It is what comes to mind the most for me when I remember that special holiday with the Viennese.

Below are 2 notable men that were instrumental in bringing the glistening sparkle of crystal into the world of Decorative arts.


Adolf Schonbek
(from schonbek.com)

In Bohemia, classic source of the world’s finest crystal, a young man named Adolf Schonbek walked away from the family glassworks to start his own business. The year was 1870. Soon Adolf was manufacturing complete glass chandeliers.

It was the height of the last great era of romance and candlelight. People of means throughout Europe lived opulently in homes richly furnished and lighted by ornate crystal chandeliers. Not surprisingly, Adolf’s business flourished.

In London the Queen’s agent ordered Schonbek crystal for Buckingham Palace. In America Schonbek crystal found its way into the White House.

The Hapsburg emperor Francis Joseph I awarded the patent of nobility to a Schonbek ancestor, but the Schonbeks were destined to become citizens of a world beyond emperors.

Adolf Schonbek began a dynasty of light that extends to the present day. With each succeeding generation we Schonbeks have made the study of the crystal chandelier in all its forms our life’s work.

World wars and trade wars came and went, and Arnold Schonbek, Adolf’s grandson, lost his factories first to the Nazis, then to the Communists. After escaping from a tumultuous Europe, Arnold re-established his company in Montreal and eventually moved the headquarters to the United States.

The craft of chandelier design remains a living art at Schonbek today. We draw on our rich heritage to revitalize the great styles of the past, and we are constantly reinventing crystal, as well, to be perfectly at home in contemporary rooms.
As a result, Schonbek designs are probably the most-imitated chandeliers in the world.

In 2007 Schonbek was acquired by Swarovski.
Swarovski is the world leader in the production of fine cut crystal, just as Schonbek is the leader worldwide in the design and manufacturing of crystal chandeliers. Together they bring a potent new mix of creativity to the world of home fashion.


Daniel Swarovski

(from swarovski.com,
wikipedia & schonbek.com)

Born to a glass cutter in North Bohemia, today a part of the Czech Republic, young Daniel Swarovski I completed a two-year apprenticeship in his father’s small factory. Here, he gain expertise in cutting glass. In 1892, he registered his invention of a machine that went on to revolutionize the crystal cutting process. In 1895 Swarovski, financier Armand Kosman and Franz Weis founded the Swarovski company, originally known as A. Kosmann, Daniel Swarovski & Co, which was later shortened to K.S. & Co. The company established a crystal cutting factory in Wattens,Tyrol to take advantage of local hydroelectricity for the energy-intensive grinding processes which Daniel Swarovski had patented.
Today, the company, still based in Wattens, family-owned and run by 4th and 5th generation family members, has a global reach, with some 20,000 employees, a presence in over 120 countries and a turnover in 2006 of 2.37 billion Euros. Swarovski comprises two major divisions, one producing and selling loose crystals to the industry and the other creating design-driven finished products.

Swarovski crystal components, known by their product brand names CRYSTALLIZED™ – Swarovski Elements for fashion and STRASS® Swarovski® Crystal for architecture and light, have become an essential ingredient of international design. Showing the creativity that lies at the heart of the company, Swarovski’s own-brand lines of accessories, jewelry and home décor are sold through more than 1150 Swarovski stores and concessions in all major fashion capitals, while the exclusive Daniel Swarovski accessories collection has become the company’s Couture signature.

The Swarovski Crystal Society has close to 400,000 members worldwide, keen collectors of the celebrated crystal figurines. And in Wattens, Crystal Worlds, the multi-media crystal museum, has attracted over 7 million visitors since it was opened in 1995 as a celebration of Swarovski’s universe of innovation and of crystal as the ultimate creative material.

The Swarovski corporation also includes four industrial brands, Tyrolit®, manufacturing grinding tools, Swareflex, for road safety reflectors, Optik, producing precision optical instruments and Signity, Swarovski’s brand for genuine and created gemstones.

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