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Vino Sospeso, the story behind a creation

Arts

‘Take just a step to the side and look at uses from another angle. To start over again, take out everything which is superficial,’ says designer Matali Crasset. The aim of the workshop which the Fondation pour la Culture et les Civilisations du Vin entrusted to her as part of the Mind-blowing! When Art and Design take on Glass temporary exhibition, in association with the teams from the CIAV (International Centre for Glass Art) in Meisenthal, was to reveal the design and production process of a glass object, by showing that it is more than just an aesthetic item, it is also firmly anchored in real life. A look back at the story behind the creation of Vino Sospeso.

Vino Sospeso: birth of a project 

‘GIVE NEW FORMS TO THE WORLD’

‘The production of consumer goods, agriculture or culture... today, every sector is subject to mass production and the extreme rationalisation of human output. All food has the same taste, manufactured items all look the same and the universal mechanism of mass distribution has reduced human-goods relationships to a sorry state of immediate visual stimulus and price wars,’* says Yann Grienenberger, Director of the CIAV in Meisenthal.

When the project for an exhibition on glass and wine with the Fondation pour la Culture et les Civilisations du Vin took shape, Yann Grienenberger immediately saw this as a lucky opportunity for him to express a different view, to ‘give new forms to the world’. This observation of economic globalisation was the starting point for Vino Sospeso, drawing on the idea of engaging in a unique project, reflecting on and running counter to the standardisation of objects. Without taking an extreme stance against human progress, he believed it was necessary to organise a form of resistance by taking a ‘critical and constructive view of the invasive reflexes of predominant models.’*

This resistance, in his view, is to be found in the simple act of ‘defending craft productions, their values and traditions,’* which enables us to restore the right to emotion and escape the numbing effects of mass production. This is the core philosophy of the CIAV in Meisenthal where, since 2012, craftsmen have been working to carve out a place for the glass-blowing tradition in this day and age by drawing on the expertise handed down and enriched by generations of glass-blowers, and to explore the questionings of contemporary designers.

THE TEAM OF ‘CRAFT DESIGNERS’

The project rapidly took on meaning for both the team at the CIAV in Meisenthal and Matali Crasset, the designer commissioned for the project by the exhibition’s curator, Bettina Tschumi, who was immediately taken by the idea.

For Yann Grienenberger, ‘Matali Crasset is an all-purpose designer who reaches beyond the boundaries to explore different production approaches and uses. Besides the forms she creates, her work is mainly characterised by the way she approaches design as a human science, placing the players of the field in which she is working at the heart of the process.’* With a small group of three to four people directly involved in the project, a real desire to engage in Vino Sospeso was born.
 

The creation of Vino Sospeso: A nomadic ‘drinking object’ 

FROM IMAGINATION... 

Re-thinking the way we drink wine and imagining a glass which challenges traditional uses - this was the starting point for Matali Crasset’s thinking on this unique project: ‘Create a glass for tasting biodynamic wine, sure, but how can we make this a genuine experience?’

The idea came naturally to offer a ritual for coming together, tasting and paying tribute to those wine-growers who take risks. Going even further, the aim was ‘to rediscover an experience: it’s not just about drinking wine, but drinking together and being able to share.’*

For Yann Grienenberger, ‘it's true that, in this age, we have never felt more in need of belonging to a social group of sincere and collective values and taking part in comforting local rituals...’*

…TO THE FINAL FORM

‘The final form of the object should thus be the fruit of a desire to express a new ceremony’. To achieve this, Matali Crasset began by revisiting an old cast-iron mould stored in the ‘cast-library’ of the CIAV in Meisenthal. This collection contains no fewer than 2,000 historical casts, gleaned over the last twenty years from regional glass-blowing production units which have now disappeared.

To place the object at the heart of the experience, the idea emerged of not simply laying the glass on a table, readily available, but to give people an active role in the process by making them fetch the glass, thus presenting it as a hanging glass. Matali therefore revisited the object, by adding an attachment of the type used for the traditional Christmas baubles produced in Meisenthal since 1999, and by modifying its cold-cutting. She explains that ‘to be able to take the glass and turn it, the best version was one without a stem.’*

This ‘drinking object’ looks like no other wineglass, because it is an evocation of the soul of wine and the soul of glass. ‘The colour of a wine crafted with love is illuminated by sunlight and floats in the breeze.’* Defying the laws of gravity, Vino Sospeso is a remarkably unique, aerial object, a floating glass hanging from the branch of a tree. The idea, according to Yann Grienenberger, is to ‘harvest it with respect’, to hold it in your palms, to breathe it in then bring it to your lips, to fill yourself with its flavours.’*

*Extracts from the exhibition catalogue ‘Mind-blowing! When Art and Design take on Glass’, published by Editions 5 Continents, on sale at La Boutique de La Cité du Vin (€25).