Upcycled crystals from Swarovski's Crystal Studio

LONDON — Swarovski wants to put its spare crystals to work for the environment, setting a challenge for students at Central Saint Martins to work with dead stock, and figure out ways of giving it new life.

On Monday, the brand will reveal the inaugural Conscious Design program in collaboration with CSM, with which it’s been working for the past 20 years.

The aim is to get MA and BA level students thinking about sustainability and the environment even before they put pen to paper, or finger to iPad, and encourage a new generation of designers to think about sustainability from Day One of the creative process.

Conscious Design will form part of the curriculum for students on three courses: MA Material Futures, BA Jewelry Design and BA Textile Design.

During the summer term, each student will create work that takes unused or reusable Swarovski crystals as the starting point, embracing sustainable materials and concepts aimed at having a positive social impact and addressing real business challenges.

The Material Futures master’s degree students will explore the power of light through the crystals and, ideally, develop innovations that harness the potential of light and inform new technological or scientific processes.

The facade of Central Saint Martins in London  ANJA RIEDMANN/Courtesy

Jewelry design undergraduates will create pieces that combine the upcycled Swarovski crystals with other materials, in particular ones that are zero waste, environmentally friendly or part of the circular economy.

Textile design undergraduates will be asked to develop new crystal applications in print, and designs that reflect London’s “cultural fusions,” and will be working concepts of sustainability and social purpose into their design story.

Following completion of the program in the fall, the Swarovski Conscious Design Hub, an online platform, will go live on the CSM web site. The open source hub will aim to offer insight into sustainability in design, with creative content from the CSM projects, including research, drawings, experiments, videos and podcasts by students as well as leading figures in the creative and sustainability fields.

The winners of the design competition for each of the three groups taking part will also be revealed in the fall.

Nadja Swarovski, member of the Swarovski executive board, said: “The hugely dedicated and talented students and faculty at Central Saint Martins are creating much-needed positive change in the fashion industry and beyond. As a company with a 125-year heritage of innovation, creative collaboration and responsible business, it is a pleasure to support them on their journey.”

Jeremy Till, head of Central Saint Martins, said that as the world begins to recognize the full impact of the environmental crisis, “it is beholden on all of us at a personal and individual level to focus our actions on the issues of climate emergency.”

He said the collaboration with Swarovski “will empower our students to develop their work in a context that spotlights their wider responsibilities as designers.”

In addition to the Conscious Design program, the Swarovski Foundation — the company’s charitable organization — plans to widen its support by increasing the number of recipients to its prestigious scholarship program from two to eight BA students in their final year, split equally across fashion and jewelry courses.

Swarovski said it is working on educational initiatives with 17 design schools globally, including Parsons School of Design, Savannah College of Art and Design and Bunka Fashion College, driving sustainability into the curriculum through the use of upcycled crystal and sustainable design challenges.

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