For Milan Design Week 2016, Czech lighting manufacturer Preciosa has created Crystal Automata, a series of crystal installations inspired by mechanical movement and the fascinating craftsmanship behind glassmaking and clockworks.

Fire, Water, Air and Earth are, according to the classical Four Elements Theory, the basic elements of all existence. Greek philosophers dedicated themselves to these elements, the alchemy of the Middle Ages and the early modern period. Since then, the four elements have been the subjects of allegory and inquiry at various levels – as well as of many artistic interpretations.

Crystal Automata combines the fascination of Fire, Water, Air and Earth with the beguiling motion of automata, reinforcing both with the many facets of crystal.


The origins of the understanding of the first automata and mechanics lead back to antiquity and Greece – where the Four Elements Theory also emerged for the first time. Alexander the Great’s conquest took this knowledge to Persia, where it was applied and preserved, before being exported once more to medieval Europe. 

There, the new rationalist understanding of mechanically organised time was perhaps one of the biggest impacts on Modern Age society, advancing it away from the Medieval, which up until this point had used observations of nature and human action to measure time. The new ability to measure and structure time mechanically was a step towards the disconnection of men from nature. 


Based on this fascination and knowledge, being aware of the mystery of automata, PRECIOSA has created Crystal Automata, to be shown at Opificio 31 in Tortona district.

In Crystal Automata, the mechanical technology is exposed to view – not hidden away in a black box, but open, as in some complex wristwatches, so that the viewer may witness motion in action, appreciate the complexity of the mechanics and wonder at their perfection


The nature of these mechanisms is cyclical – without beginning or end, they run in continuous movement for eternity. In Crystal Automata, the movement of light is set in motion, forever changing but never ceasing; it brings the concept of the chandelier and its unique sparkling properties, through the ages, and into our contemporary present.

There are inherent connections between chandeliers and automata. Chandeliers are used to receive and inspire guests – in the past, automata were also used to instil wonder in visitors or viewers, via a practical device. The fusion of chandeliers with automata magnifies the visual wonder and fascination of each innumerably, and leads visitors into a crystal wonderland, a small insight into Precios’s Crystal Valley, inspired and expressed by Fire, Water, Air and Earth.

Crystal Automata has been created by Michael Vasku and Andreas Klug, Creative Directors at Preciosa Lighting.


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all images and video courtesy of Preciosa Lighting