Dezeen promotion: Lasvit creative director Maxim Velcovsky used thousands of smoky glass spheres to create this 17-metre-long figure of a diver, which is suspended in the atrium of South Korea's tallest skyscraper.
Called Diver, the bespoke glass sculpture was created by Czech lighting brand Lasvit for the Gana Art Gallery, which has an exhibition space inside the Lotte World Tower in Seoul.
The piece pays tribute to "haenyeo" – women who dive into the ocean in search of pearls. The tradition is particular to South Korean island Jeju and, because haenyeo don't wear any oxygen masks, is seen as a show of great skill.
Velcovsky wanted to reference the way that bubbles collect on the skin of haenyeo when they dive into the water, so he designed a sculpture made entirely out of small bubble-sized glass balls.
Each sphere appears to contain smoke. This effect was created during the manufacturing process – by breath being blown into the molten glass.
"The sculpture is a symbol of breath captured in glass," said Velcovsky. "Each breath and glass sphere at the end of the process forms an image of something, in this case the figure of a diver."
The air-filled glass spheres were hand-blown and individually wrapped by Lasvit, before being sent to South Korea. Lasvit sees this process as "a token of exchange with the Korean diver", whose work could be described as swapping oxygen bubbles for pearls.
The balls hang down from a steel structure on slender threads, creating both the shape of the diver in motion, and hundreds of surrounding bubbles.
Velcovsky has been the brand's creative director since 2011, and this isn't the first time he has created an installation using small balls. His Good Ghosts sculpture in Prague's Quadrio building featured sculptures of a horse, a lion and a boot, all created using glass spheres.
Maxim Velcovsky describes his concept for Diver in this film produced by Lasvit
Diver has been installed inside Lotte World Tower since it opened earlier this year. Designed by KPF, the 555-metre-high tower is currently the fifth-tallest building in the world, and features a tapered glass exterior that references Korean ceramics.
"The sheen of the tower’s pale glass exterior is complemented by the white opaque surfaces of the spheres," added Lasvit.
To find out more about Lasvit and its bespoke glass projects, visit the brand's website.