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A new carousel was recently unveiled in Wattens, Austria by well-known crystal manufacturer Swarovski as part of Swarovski Kristallwelten, a sculpture garden-cum-visitors-centre nestled among the Tyrolean Alps, near their head office. Created by Spanish artist and designer Jaime Hayon, the carousel eschews colour is rendered in black and white with accents of gold, all of which contrast beautifully with the lush, green surroundings. The result is surprisingly elegant.

With a jug-eared bust presiding over the fun, the carousel’s top is reminiscent of a circus' big tent and houses a number of unconventional rides. Gone are the usual wooden horses and other animals, and instead they have been replaced by a menagerie of monochromatic creatures so whimsical and wonderful that they could only have been born of Hayon's fertile imagination. One creature looks like a cross between a balloon animal and a rubber duck, while another resembles a bipedal narwhal wearing Japanese clogs. For the younger riders, there’s a gentling rocking carriage that can be described as a cross between a snail and a dog, while the requisite spinning teacup has been adorned with playful clown faces. 

More whimsical faces formed of geometric shapes and inspired by African masks can be seen on the awnings and fencing. They alternate between expressions of excitement, joy and wonder, mirroring the common reactions of visitors as they discover the attraction. Even the ride attendant’s cabin is topped with a winking character that balances a sausage-like form on its head.

"For me, a carousel can be seen a moving museum... There are sculptures moving around, which can be seen as art pieces. So I started by drawing freely and creating creatures from my imagination."
 - Jaime Hayon

Once in motion, the ride plays a lively soundtrack. Hayon has subverted the traditional by combining a classical melody with a contemporary bass line.

While the project's brief did not require Hayon to use Swarovski crystals, he managed to incorporate 15 million pieces into the design.  Crystals can be found on the wall panels that wrap around the central pole (punctuated with geometric mirrors), the faces on the awnings, and the carousel’s ceiling, which is inlaid with playful drawings in typical Hayon-esque fashion. 

Mark Cocksedge, courtesy of Swarovski
"This is an art piece, and art should be for all audiences. I think that adults need to dream and to dare, like children do. When Swarovski asked me to make this carousel, I thought it would be the perfect project. Because even though it can be linked to children, it’s been the perfect opportunity to break the rules."
- Jaime Hayon

See the piece in action and hear more from the artist himself below.


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