Form Meets Function

Artist Hervé Van der Straeten talks about his new piece of artwork, debuting at Art Basel Miami Beach.

Hervé Van der Straeten

There will be a cool surprise at this year’s hottest art festival, Art Basel Miami Beach: “Miroir”—a Champagne ice-bucket and coaster set designed by the venerable artist Hervé Van der Straeten. The Champagne house Ruinart and nonprofit arts organization Creative Time will team up with Wine Enthusiast Magazine to celebrate the piece of work at an exclusive brunch during the festival, to be held on December 6–9.

Wondering what happens when a celebrated artist collaborates with a world-class Champagne house? Wine Enthusiast spoke with Van der Straeten to find out.

Wine Enthusiast: How did you become involved with the Ruinart collaboration for Art Basel, which resulted in the "Miroir" ice bucket?
Hervé Van der Straeten:
I’ve been familiar with Ruinart Champagne for a long time, and for the past four or five years I’ve served it at my gallery openings. So it was a natural step for them to ask me to work with them. Since the materials I use for my furniture and other pieces are all of very high quality, it makes sense to serve Ruinart to my guests. It makes a good pairing.

W.E.: How did your relationship with wine influence your creation?
The ice bucket is about light. The Ruinart Champagne bottle is quite unusual and served as an influence. All facets of the object and the Ruinart Champagne bottles you would cool in it are meant to catch and amplify light. The bottle is like a magnifying glass, and you see the color of the wine very clearly and deeply.

W.E.: Can you tell us about the French rafraîchissoir—the serving table with a built-in wine bucket—which was popular during the Age of Enlightenment?
The 18th century was the peak of refinement, so I looked back and referenced very specific items that were included as part of table setting[s] and furniture used to serve wine. There were even rafraîchissoirs for glasses so one could enjoy the quality of the wine at the right temperature.

When you love wine, you have to serve it at [the] right temperature, and Champagne must be served very cold, so I thought this type of object would be perfect. I also wanted something quite playful, so I designed an object where you can use three bottles, which is more party like and generous.  It’s a useful object, but at the same time beautiful and modern. It’s a story of contrasts.

W.E.: Only 50 limited-edition ice buckets were created. Do you expect those who receive the "Miroir" buckets to use them to chill Champagne? Or will they be revered as works of art?
I want the ice bucket to be a totally usable item. I’ve designed it so that three bottles can fit precisely and not move around. It was a clear design choice that was also practical. My design pieces are in general sculptural but are meant to be a part of life. Part of the beauty is to use the objects I design.

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