Crystal Clear

Innovative Colour-Changing Design Inspired by the Properties of Crystals

Designers Thomas Vailly and Laura Lynn Jansen have worked together previously, but their latest project 101.86°- color of the day may be their most innovative and mesmerising yet. The design features layered sheets of treated glass which automatically change colours using refraction when moved. “The project is inspired by how scientists are finding and studying the properties of crystals under the microscope,” Laura explains.

The project takes its cue from a particular crystal native to the Icelandic mountains which Vikings apparently used to determine where the sun was in the sky to help with navigation. Studying the crystal closely they were able to replicate its properties using artificial means and apply them to glass, making it very versatile. When light hits the sheets colours are produced, much like in a prism. When the sheets are moved or rotated, new tones are instantly produced.

The effect is really enchanting with an other-worldly strangeness which seems to defy logic on first glance. Thomas and Laura have made an installation using the material but also an innovative clock design which tells the time using different colours.

We spoke to Laura to find out more:

The Plus: How did the collaboration between you and Thomas come about?
Laura Lynn Jansen:
The collaboration is the result of our complimentary approaches and views towards product and interior design. Whether we are growing stone objects (CaCO3 stoneware) or investigating the colourful nature of light (101.86°), the signature of the collaboration is a great attention paid to natural phenomena.

TP: Is there a particular message behind this work?
Both our previous project CaCO3 and 101.86° react to the urgency triggered by the current system of production/consumption. While not being ‘green’ or ‘eco’, these projects suggest alternative process of harvesting raw material, transformation and production of goods while working with natural process and phenomenon, rather than against it. In order to do so, the research and development of these projects are based on a cross-disciplinary approach together with experts from various fields. Geologists and chemists for CaCO3, Physicists and glass producers for 101.86°.


TP: Have either of you been to Iceland where the crystal originates?
Yes, Thomas taught a few times at the Icelandic design school. The crystal is actually crystallized limestone, which is a material we worked with on our previous project CaCO3 stoneware.

TP: Do you think you’ll continue to collaborate in the future?