“Lost Time” by Glithero for Perrier-Jouet at Design Miami 2012. (Photo: Petr Krejci)
Chairs, glorious chairs, are everywhere at Design Miami, but no one sits for long. Collectors, dealers, journalists, and the odd celebrity (who knew Will Ferrell was a design buff?) stream through the fair at different speeds and with varying agendas: see Maarten de Ceulaer’s latest “mutations,” close the sale on the Nakashima bench, locate a friend and a chocolate dulce de leche pie ($7 at the catering stand), nab a seat for Stefano Tonchi’s on-stage chat with Diane von Furstenberg, load up on free magazines. A welcome pause from this year’s frenzy was offered by Glithero, the design duo of Tim Simpson and Sarah van Gameren.
The London-based studio was commissioned by Perrier-Jouët to create an installation that honored the champagne house’s Art Nouveau heritage (that famous flowered bottle was the result of a 1902 collaboration with artist Emile Gallé). “We sought to work with a designer that has the Art Nouveau dimension in his or her DNA,” Axelle de Buffevent, brand style director for Martell Mumm-Perrier-Jouët, told us in Miami. “With Glithero, you immediately see that their work is very inspired by nature, by the processes of nature.”
Long fascinated by processes ranging from artisanal craftsmanship to industrial production methods, Simpson and van Gameren responded to Perrier-Jouët’s commission by creating “Lost Time” (pictured), a darkened chamber strung with skeins of shot beads that dripped from the ceiling like glamorous ghosts of stalactites—or champagne flutes. The swooping volumes, inspired in part by Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, were reflected in a shallow pool of water, an infusion of moisture that heightened the cave-like atmosphere (and winked at the humidity that awaited on the other side of the air-conditioned tent).
Several months ago, Simpson and van Gameren traveled to Perrier-Jouët headquarters in Epernay, France and found inspiration in the vast cellars, which unfurl beneath a historic house that contains some 200 works by Art Nouveau masters. “The cellars have this dim ambience and the walls are chalky, which gives a very unusual coolness to the space. There are puddles everywhere, so the racks of champagne bottles are mirrored in these tiny pools,” said van Gameren. “It was really like another world, with the strong feeling that time has just stopped for hundreds of years. And this is what we wanted to bottle and bring here to Design Miami, because it seems like such a big contrast with the environment of the fair.”
The installation was lined with a bench that offered an ideal perch for contemplating the curvy landscape and observing the reactions of fairgoers as they entered the dark enclosure. The prevailing response was one of enchantment. “It does seem to have a kind of slowing effect on people, and I’m quite happy about that,” said Simpson. “The piece is really about stillness. In using quite simple ingredients, we wanted to create an experience where part of the beauty was that you understood it completely.”