Story by Aulia R. Sungkar; Photos by Bagus Tri Laksono
Originally published in August-September 2018 edition of Indonesia Design
It has been more 123 years since Daniel Swarovski invented a crystal-cutting machine with high precision in Tyrol, Austria. Fast forward, Swarovski has not only successfully maintained its family ownership for five generations, but the giant is known as one of the world’s market leaders in cut crystal for jewellery, decorative pieces, lighting and interior.
Present as guests of honour at the event were H.E. Austrian Ambassador Madam Helene Steinhaust, and Daniel J. Cohen as Swarovski’s principal owner and member of the Executive Board – Strategic Business Development. Daniel is a fifth generation member of the Swarovski family. Ever since he joined the company in 1993, Daniel has played a pivotal role in Swarovski’s crystal business expansion globally, including in Indonesia.
In this rare occasion, Indonesia Design as the house of the event had the opportunity to have a chat with Daniel, who unveiled the strengths that have made Swarovski stay atop in the world of business.
What are the secret recipes of the company’s successful long journey in the world of crystal business?
Cutting crystal to perfection is one recipe. My great great grand father invented the technology that the company has since the very outset applied it to create exceptional crystal pieces. With this crystal technology, he developed formulas to reproduce colours. Over the course of time, he also developed an automated handling process to form, cut and polish crystal. This relationship between the material and the process has been the basis of the technology that forms our unique defensible position from one generation to another. So it’s in our DNA.
Another recipe is our dynamic brand management. We see the brand as our greatest asset, so we are always looking for ways to deepen the story of our brand. Through each of our quality and unique products, we lead our consumers to discover a new aspect of the brand’s story. Also worth to mention is our incredible breath of products; ranging from all shapes, sizes and colours of crystals, to application possibilities on everything from jewellery to shoes to wallpaper, just to name a few. We are also in gemstone business. We have sold 15 different materials; among others are emerald, sapphire, ruby and diamond. The last recipe is distribution. So, the combination of technology, product diversity and distribution is our formula for success.
As a principal owner part of the fifth generation of family ownership, what strategic steps do you have in order to take the company to the next level?
I’m very excited and very fortunate to cover the responsibility for our family business. Our focuses are to execute growth strategy to penetrate new markets, and to enhance the use of technological innovation to maintain the high quality standard of our products.
How would you describe your customers?
The majority of our customers are women, yet I’ve seen the increasing number of male customers in our market. In general, our customers are those interested in brands and luxury. They have a keen design sensibility because what we offer are premium products, not commodities. Our customers are those who appreciate the details of our products, whether it is crystal figuration, size, proportion, or surface finish.
Swarovski has branched out into the lighting business. We would like to know how the idea first came up, and the approach to this lighting business.
It’s an interesting story of our brand, actually. Originally, Swarovski’s crystals were intended for the fashion industry and have been used as decorations for lights since the 1950s. In the 1970s, crystal lighting elements were already incorporated into prestigious light fittings, such as those at Metropolitan Opera in New York and Palace of Versailles. In the 1990s, we expanded our portfoli
o by introducing Swarovski’s first finished lighting collection, and we began utilizing our technology to produce exclusive, unique precision-cut lighting components. We actually commenced our finished lighting business in 2005, but Swarovski Lighting was formally established in 2011, partnering two premium lighting brands: Swarovski, known for its contemporary aesthetic, and Schonbek, with its traditional designs.
What are the strengths of Swarovski Lighting’s products compared to other similar products from different brands?
First is our quality and ability to lend the expressive, emotional and transformative power of crystal to create luxurious interiors. Next is our unique combination of strong brand name, heritage and mastery. Our latest collection, ‘Infinite Aura’, is one example. The products of this collection are manufactured with a combination of innovative technology, unique design and crystal craftsmanship, resulting in a vision of infinity that celebrates the human imagination and eclipses the ordinary limits of the mind.
Last but not the least, what made the company decide to choose Medici as the distributor, and what is your level of confidence in Indonesia’s market?
We only engage in partnership with those having equal professional reputation, experience and knowledge; and this is what we have seen in Medici. We have long built our partnership with outstanding results. My business expansion goal includes creating strategic market penetration in Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago and Southeast Asia’s largest economy. I’m very confident that with the increasing number of wealthy individuals in the country, Indonesia offers huge market potential for Swarovski’s products; and Medici has the capability of penetrating that market.