Creative young designers have ‘reinvented the wine bottle’ in a stunning collection of work titled ‘Vini, Vindi, Vinci‘ which is to be shown at the Centre d’Architecture in Bordeaux until Sunday Match 2nd. The talented youngsters are graduates of the Bordeaux School of Fine Arts (EBABX), the National School of Architecture and Landscape Bordeaux (L’ENSAP) and the School of Design, University of Milan. Their designs are reflections on the world of wine from the vineyard to the table and include bottles, labels, wine racks and spittoons. The students were asked to think about the objects, their uses and to rethink their forms. Chateaux Giscours and du Tertre (both owned by Eric Albada Jelgersma in Margaux) and Larose Trintaudon (owned by AGF-Allianz Insurance in Haut Medoc) partnered the project.
The designs are quite spectacular and before embarking on their work the students visited vineyards, chateaux and businesses in Bordeaux, learning about the culture, history and techniques of wine making. They were guided by the teachers of the 3 schools whose fields covered architecture, design, landscaping and art. I think its a great idea to showcase the innovative work of the students and hopefully it will breathe some fresh air (and ideas) into Bordeaux wine labelling and design. I really liked the reworking of Chateau du Tertre’s label (depicted right)! It was designed by Julie Regazzacci for the project titled ‘Alchimie’ (Alchemy) and she has also designed labels for Bernard Magrez as part of the project ‘Gamme’ (Range). Her website is www.mauvaiscaractere.com and is well worth a visit!
Bottle shape and labelling are part of a brand’s identity and it’s easy to understand why established brands don’t want to move away from what makes them recognisable. The well known shape of the high shouldered Bordeaux bottle has been in existence since the early 19th century and Bordeaux labels have typically depicted an engraved picture of the chateau and scripted typefaces for decades.
The are exceptions to the rule; Chateau Mouton Rothschild commissions contemporary artists to create their labels every year. There are also the one off designer labels produced for Chateau Rauzan Segla’s 350th birthday in 2009 by Karl Lagerfield and a label for Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou’s Second Wine La Croix de Beaucaillou by Jade Jagger.
There are changes afoot – some labels have opted for colourful backgrounds and some brave souls have departed from the norm. Jean Luc Thunevin’s wine Bad Boy always makes me smile (Jean Luc was affectionately christened the bad boy of Saint Emilion and a black sheep by critic Robert Parker. This was because Thunevin famously pioneered Garagiste wines, which ruffled some of the Saint Emilion establishment’s feathers. He emerged victorious – his Chateau Valandraud was promoted to Premier Cru Classé B in 2012).
The embossed bottle design by the younger designers (depicted left) particularly caught my eye as it reminded me of the seals embossed in the glass shoulders of Chateaux Giscours, Lafite and Haut Brion. These shoulder seals are rarely done nowadays in Bordeaux but in times past they served the purpose of a label and added provenance to the wine. Shoulder seals were in use from the early 17th century through to about the 1870s. They were inscribed with a crest, a name or initials, sometimes a date or an address and occasionally a bunch of grapes or motif.
In the past it was common for Bordeaux wine producers to ship wine to England in barrel and have it bottled over here. However this lead to mischief as the wines could be tampered with by unscrupulous merchants (adding water to increase the quantities bottled etc). To get around this problem many producers would supply bottles bearing the shoulder seals of the chateau, and only enough bottles to accommodate the amount of wine shipped. As these bottles tended to be reused the wine producers came up with the idea of adding a date to the shoulder seal to prevent them being used again.
There were two methods of creating the shoulder seal, one was with a mould and simple embossing and the other was done by adding a blob of molten glass to the cooling wine bottle. Whilst the blob was soft a crest was pressed on to it leaving behind an impression. Today these rare old bottles are highly sought after by collectors.
The collection of student’s work at ‘Vini, Vindi, Vinci’ is a fantastic idea and I hope that these talented young people bring inspiration to Bordeaux; it would be great to see some of their concepts utilised in the future. If you’d like to see the collection for yourself it is at Centre d’Architecture, CAPC, 7 Rue Ferrère, Bordeaux
Photo Credits Sud Ouest, Nino Laisné, EBABX