Meredith GrattonMeredith GrattonLife has had a certain “Cinderella slant” for Meredith Gratton, BIND ’11. As a child, she remembers making paper shoes to wear at her father’s 40th birthday party. Today, she is designing with Swarovski crystal: not glass slippers but sparkling chandeliers.

“I can still picture those bright blue ballet flats with little pink bows,” she recalls. “Unfortunately I didn’t take into consideration the wetness of the ground before wearing them all around the yard. The shoes didn’t last long, but my love for making things has.”

As a designer at Swarovski Architectural Solutions, there’s a lot to consider. Custom lighting design projects range from small-scale residential chandeliers, sconces, and lamps to huge crystal art pieces in hotel lobbies and ballrooms. She uses 3-D modeling and rendering as well as 2-D work by hand and in CAD. Illustrator and Photoshop software is used to create imagery.

It sounds technical, and it is. But her inspiration grows from a basic element: nature. The ocean, for example, was the theme for an intricate piece that hangs in the lobby of The Mansions at Acqualina in Sunny Isles, Fla.

“The form looks like ocean waves, and a fiber-optic lighting system has one light bulb with a bunch of glass tails that shine light down from the canopy,” she explains of the design. “A twinkle wheel helps create an ocean-like shimmer effect on the floor below.”

Nature “never fails bring new inspiration,” for Gratton, who grew up in Plattsburgh, N.Y., surrounded by the Adirondack Mountains and Lake Champlain. At Wentworth, she majored in Industrial Design because of its combination of creativity and practicality, never losing sight of that appreciation for her surroundings.

“I would take off my shoes to walk across the grass of the quad. That small connection with nature really had an effect on me. My senior project explored ways of reintroducing nature into the urban home.”

And at Swarovski, she has the power to do that.

“There are endless possibilities for interpretation, and no matter how beautiful your creation is, it can never recreate the real thing. It’s humbling and motivating.”