Champagne. It's everywhere you look at Art Basel and at Design Miami/. The gods practically pour it down from the sky and into your mouth as you meander, quenching you with its sweet effervescence. But how about artwork that's influenced by it? Yeah, they've got that, too.
Run, don't walk, to Design Miami/, where Art Nouveau meets modern design for what's arguably the stand-out piece at this year's fair. Perrier-Jouet has commissioned London-based designers Glithero to create an installation and exhibition space, which was unveiled yesterday at the fair.
Tim Simpson and Sarah van Gameren, the designers behind Glithero, are known for using their work to pose questions about the value of the end product. The end result of their Lost in Time piece is a feeling of disorientation and timelessness, one they experienced in Perrier-Jouet's cellars at Maison Belle Epoque in Epernay, France.
It's the trippy kind of art that plays with your senses and makes you question what's real and what's not--all without having to actually drink copious amounts of bubbly.
The collaboration marks the first commissioned piece by Perrier-Jouet as part of its ongoing partnership with Design Miami/. In addition to the commissioned work, Perrier-Jouet will be the official champagne sponsor of the fair, which means Belle Epoque cuvee champagne will abound within the quarters of the Design Miami Collectors Lounge and select VIP events during the week of the fair.
This isn't the first time Perrier-Jouet makes its mark in the art world. The Champagne purveyors have been collaborating with artists since 1902, with its first artistic collaboration being with infamous French Art Nouveau artist Emile Gallé (who incidentally created the anemone design of its iconic Belle Époque cuvée bottles). Following Miami, Glithero's piece will travel to France to become a part of the permanent collection of contemporary and historic Art Nouveau-inspired pieces in the Maison Belle Epoque.
We sat down with the British-Dutch duo to chat more about their piece and to get an idea of how a work of art makes it to the big leagues such as Design Miami/.
New Times: Tell us about the piece and what it represents.
Tim Simpson: We wanted to make a sculptural installation that was somehow a material or not a physical material, and so we borrowed the principal of Gaudi who made the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. In making that church, Gaudi had this fascinating way of thinking and sketching using configurations of string that were hung from the ceiling with weights that when you flipped upside down, revealed a kind of beautiful way of creating a curve that was also structural.
The idea was to take that principal of something only existing in reflection and turning into a landscape to sort of go bigger in scale. So the piece is made from nickel strung beads; they have a kind of poise and perfect weight and stillness that you don't find with string or thread or something lighter that can settle in a still way. They hang over a shallow basin of water. Some people at first don't realize it's water and they come in and touch the water, and that's great, I love it when it happens because they upset the water and the sculpture sort of instantly disappears. For us, the most important thing is what's happening in that water, it's really about that view and the part that's hanging above it is almost a consequence of that.
You both visited the Maison Belle Epoque in Epernay earlier this year -- can you tell us how that influenced your work?
Tim: We visited the house where the Champagne was made and that was an important part of working with Perrier-Jouet, to understand how they make their product. It was an important experience because some of the things we felt there or some of the things we saw and experienced were some of the things that we wanted to evoke here in Miami.
We were particularly interested in this particular moment where there's a transition between the upstairs, where one moment you're in a gorgeous chateau in Epernay with a bright landscape, and the next moment you descend through a door and down some stairs and the ambience changes instantly to a damp, moist environment. We loved the idea that it was sort of a parallel world that existed. You having reflection.
Sarah: There's also this interesting thing that, upstairs in the Maison Belle Epoque, you have this Art Nouveau collection and Art Nouveau uses impressions in nature a lot and if you go down into the cellars, you get this humid atmosphere that is really like a natural experience in a way with puddles and chalky textures of the walls. It somehow has to do with the same natural theme in two different ways of interpretation.
What are the different types of reactions or emotions you aimed to provoke in the common viewer of this piece?
Tim: First of all, it's about a moment of revelation or reveal. You don't see the reflection when you walk in, but you do when you approach it so you get this other dimension to it. That's actually something that we are always interested in all our work, being authors of a kind of moment and how that moment is delivered. We wanted to make something that was peaceful, that sort of evokes the experience we had in Epernay.
How long did it take to create?
Tim: We started in the summer, so half a year.
Sarah: It stared with a conversation and then we went to see the cellars in Epernay. All the ingredients slowly gathered and the idea gradually became clearer and clearer.
So yo got to drink lots of Champagne?
Sarah: Yes. We had to taste everything, of course.
As a team, is there a specific approach you take in the process of designing and creating?
Tim: We are sort of switchers as we work. We always work on things together, not always at the same time. It's sort of like a baby that gets handed between us. Sometimes we completely swap points of view and that's always really important part of the process when we are handling each other's ideas.
Sarah: We tend to start with our own vision but the same direction and then we talk and talk to sharpen our vision and to explain our vision to each other. What happens a lot of the time is that I end up with Tim's vision and Tim ends up with my vision. We tend to understand one another's position and we even get more enthusiastic about one another's position and that's an idea slowly forms itself.
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Being here in Miami for Art Basel, what's it like for you to be a part of it all?
Sarah: This is our first time in Miami and it's an incredible experience. It seems that there's a real nurturing of young design talent. It's really important for designers like us to be a part of it.
Tim: It's really important that there are these hubs here in Miami, Basel, and Milan. It's really important that it's so big, that it attracts big numbers of visitors and sponsors because for us it means that we can undertake projects that we'd otherwise never have a chance to realize, or try things, or make things that are experimental or unfinished.
Sarah: Also to make a larger statement as designers. Getting this opportunity is a very special occasion.