It’s November, which means a few things in New York: 1) We are finally experiencing some east coast fall weather, 2) The holidays are coming very very soon, and 3) New Yorkers will be flocking to Miami at the end of the month for all of the big art and design fairs. For Perrier-Jouët, the iconic champagne house founded in 1811, their main focus of the month is number three—preparing for their art installation at DesignMiami/.
This year, Perrier-Jouët is teaming up with designer and architect, Andrew Kudless, for an art installation that combines things the house has always prided themselves with—craft, heritage, nature and art. Art has always been incredibly important to Perrier-Jouët, as seen with their widely-popular Belle Epoque collections. While each year they have commissioned an artist to create an art installation at DesignMiami/ since 2012, this year’s partnership with Kudless—who’s based in San Francisco—marks their first year working with an American designer, rather than one from Europe. As said by the maison’s Creative Director, Axelle De Buffevent, “We were super happy to bring an American designer to Miami for the first time. For us, it’s taking a new angle, a new direction. It creates another point of tension.”
Having started the discussion for this year’s installation 16 months ago, Perrier-Jouët and Kudless are now in the final stages of putting everything together. Again and again, the idea of combining craft and technology comes up in our meeting with De Buffevent. In one example, she discusses using technology as an enhancement in the current champagne-making process: “We still make champagne the same way we did in 1811. We bring technology in, but the making is the same exact way. Some things were handmade, but now we have some handmade and some mechanically turned.”
Trained as an architect, Kudless is interested in the materials and systems within architecture—the thread that connects paintings, drawings, furniture, buildings and cities. His practice, called Matsys, stands for material systems, which shows how “everything that is made or is natural is this interaction between materials, geometry behavior and performance.” He notes that the project was inspired by a few things: “The original proposal went back to looking at some of the work of the Art Nouveau period—I wanted to look more into trends that connected them all. One, for example, was the curving line, embodied in the paintings in women’s hair or grape vines… There’s this vitality that sometimes is quite abstract and sometimes quite literal—you see it across all pieces. So I wanted to create something with strands, how they are separate and also bundled together. [Essentially] different scales within the exhibit that share the same DNA.”
Because there are so many booths within the fair and it can feel pretty hard to soak everything in, Kudless makes it a point for the installation to create a moment of pause, seclusion and rest from the overwhelming aspect of the fair. He wanted to create a “secret garden or forest,” while showcasing four elements: a screen, table, bench, and ice bucket. The ice bucket is most connected to the champagne-making process in that it utilizes leftover Chardonnay grape skins, dried and ground into a powered form and put through a 3D printer. And that again, is how they are combining technology, nature, craft and art to create something innovative, interesting and beautiful.
Kudless’ installation can be viewed at DesignMiami/, November 29th to December 4th, and will eventually make its way back to the Perrier-Jouët house in France.
By Mable Yiu
Photos courtesy of Perrier-Jouët