The Kingdom of Crystal
In 1742 the king of Sweden wanted to reward two generals in his army; he was also anxious for his country to begin its industrial development. Killing two birds with one stone, he gave each a small region to govern in Smaland, a thickly-wooded, under-populated pile of glacial sand, rocks and lakes– all they need to start a glass making industry. The generals recruited artisan blowers from Bohemia and built a factory village they named Kosta. Many of the itinerant blowers settled, married local girls, and set up their own factories. By the late 1800s, growing competition from abroad in the commodity glass market forced a decision to focus on handmade designs – a decision that saved the Swedish industry. Throughout the 20th century, the country became famous for the stunning glassware and art pieces it created. Today, Smaland’s Kingdom of Crystal gets a million visitors a year, and now finally they have somewhere breathtaking to stay. In June 2009, the Kosta Boda brand opened the first glass art-hotel in Europe. Containing 100 tons of glass, it offers 104 suites designed and decorated by the famous Kosta Boda glass artists, who also created a crystal-floored swimming pool– with a changing exhibition in the base– and a crystal bar.
Text Jules Marshall