Zotem by Kim Thomé

V&A Project

19 — 27 Sept 2015

Craft, Materials

Victoria & Albert Museum

Cromwell Road



During London Design Festival visitors to the V&A were greeted by Zotem, a bold and colourful installation conceived by London-based Norwegian designer Kim Thomé with Swarovski.

Created in collaboration with Swarovski, Zotem was an 18-metre-tall double-sided monolith embedded with over-sized Swarovski crystals, which rose vertically from the Museum’s Grand Entrance to the Ceramics gallery directly above it, on the sixth floor. Making use of the high atrium, Zotem created a visual link between two normally disparate spaces within the Museum, allowing visitors to perceive the interior architecture in a new way. The installation comprised over 600 custom-made Swarovski crystals scaled up to 2.5 times their regular size and displayed in a grid pattern within a frame of matte black aluminium. A roll of vividly printed mesh ran in a continuous loop inside the two aluminium faces – moving up one side and down the other. As light shone through the graphic mesh and the crystals, the pattern and colour were projected and distorted, creating an ephemeral and dynamic effect that brought the crystal to life and drew the eye upward. At the top of the structure – which could be viewed from the Contemporary Ceramics gallery – the crystal grid pattern fanned out in a crescendo of colour and light. The title, ‘Zotem’ is a portmanteau word blending the sounds and meanings of both ‘totem’ and ‘zoetrope’ – a 19th century animation device that pre-dates film and gives the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of isolated drawings that appear to move as they flick past the eye in quick succession. Like a zoetrope, the installation seemingly brought the inanimate to life. The looping mechanism of Zotem – which was visible through the open sides of the structure – also referenced the vintage animation device. Supported by Swarovski.