Winemag Winemag Philippe Starck / Photo by James Bort

The Wine Enthusiast Guide to Art & Wine

One on One with Philippe Starck

Internationally acclaimed designer Philippe Starck has been creating objects large and small, from yachts to toothbrushes, for five decades. Widely recognized for high-end furniture and hospitality design, Starck believes in creating items and spaces that are both beautiful and functional for as many people as possible. His Louis Ghost chair in transparent polycarbonate has sold over a million copies. Starck has also collaborated with Louis Roederer on their Brut Nature Champagne bottlings, the first from the 2006 vintage released in 2014 and the last from the 2009 vintage released in 2016, for which he designed the label as well as assisted with blending.

“Wine is the result of hard work of talents, intuitions [and] pragmatic science. But above all, it’s human genius.”

Port Adriano
Philippe Starck’s design the Port Adriano, located on the south-west bay of Palma de Mallorca, stems from the artist’s dislike of parked cars—the building conceals the underground car-park with a contemporary design meant to stand the test of time / Photo by Jose Hevia

Do you feel there is a connection between design and the creation of wine?

Whether bad or good, everything that bears my name comes from my brain, drawn with my pencil and on my tracing paper… Whether it is a toothpick, an airplane, a mega yacht or a chair, it is the same philosophy: To think of the profit of the final user, and to start from the highest vision, that shall lead to an ethic and may birth to a project. It is the same process for all my work. Wine is the result of hard work of talents, intuitions [and] pragmatic science. But above all, it’s human genius. It’s human genius coming from human history. I have always had a passion for Champagne, and I refined, over time, a personal idea of what Champagne should be. There are people who know how to do their job and there are people like me who have a vision of these jobs but who don’t know anything about [them].

How did the creation of Louis Roederer Philippe Starck Brut Nature Champagne come about?

For years, I refused to collaborate with Champagne companies on the design of bottles because, in my opinion, it was incoherent to draw a beautiful bottle whose content would not be also made by me. One day, [Roederer President and CEO] Frédéric Rouzaud came to make me with the same proposal, to which I replied, “I would never make the bottle if I do not do the content.” Contrary to the others and to my surprise, he accepted. It was even more incredible [in] that Roederer is like the Queen of England, the last family home with their own vineyards. It’s more sacred than sacred, and they agreed to dance with a punk. Together with Frédéric Rouzaud and [Winemaker] Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, we have turned a vision that I had from words to Champagne; we really invented a new language, a diagonal language of creativity.

Wine & Art Through Time

400 BC Krater with a Dionysian banquet, artist unknown; ceramic, Greece
300 AD Slaves serving at a banquet, artist unknown; mosaic, Tunisia

What type of wine do you drink?

In 30 years, I [have] never had a product in my home that has not been certified organic, and the same goes for wine. For more than 10 years, we [have only drank] wines without sulfites or little. In red, one of my favorite wines is the Marcel Lapierre Morgon, without added sulfites of course. This is a wine that I find interesting because it is healthy enough and original, yet still [agreeable] for my wife and friends to drink with me. And recently I discovered the amazing Renaissance wines of Henry Marionnet, who grew vines as they used to do in the Middle Ages. Some are extraordinary like [Jean-Marc Brignot’s] Robert Est un Con [and] Envol de la Fille. These are masterpieces, and the enthusiasts behind them are artists.

Starck Beer
In collaboration with 340-year-old brewery, Brasserie d’Oit, Starck created the IPA-inspired Starck beer. The brew uses carefully selected raw material, like hops and water from the Aubrac region, and is certified organic. Starck designed the bottle to be much like the beer inside—contemporary and minimalistic. / Photo courtesy Starck


Of all the industrial and consumer products you have designed, which is your favorite?

I’ve [always] had this strange idea that I would become a pure spirit. I’ve always hated materiality; you just have to look at my body that I have always tried to ignore. I have always had this idea to fight materiality, which is a paradox because I’ve been producing materiality. But I think materiality is vulgarity. What interests me is the exact opposite: dematerialization. With Champagne or fragrances, I can finally fulfill my dream of abstraction because Champagne is an idea even before being wine, as perfume is an emotion before being a smell.

Published on March 19, 2018
Topics: Interviews
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