A room full of empty wine bottles is an all too familiar scene during the holidays but at the Carwan Gallery in Beirut, architecture studio 200 Grs. is keeping the party going with their most recent commission, Artifacts. A collaboration with boutique Lebanese wine producers Atibaia, the limited series of angular wooden forms transform wine bottles into sculptural mementos of a bottle shared between friends.
The commission celebrates the launch of the vineyards’ 2012 Grand Cru, described as a spicy oak with complex notes of Havana Tobacco and cedars oak, large, powerful tannins. Beginning with a brief about, “closing the wine cycle with wood,” 200 Grs. principals Rana Haddad and Pascal Hachem explored ways to dress a wine bottle to highlight the flavors of the wine and the process of aging the wine in oak barrels.
Balancing wooden shapes on an empty bottle, new geometries emerged and “a conversation started,” explains Haddad, “a full-fledged ‘exercise de style,’ requiring us to push more in terms of shape and gravity.” Chamfered edges softened the oak wood sculptures while the addition of gold and silver leaf reflect a certain delicacy and lightness, what Haddad describes as “a performance between wine and wood.”
The final presentation of the limited edition Artifacts is equally important for the studio. The installation, also designed by 200 Grs., includes a shelf that runs along the entire circumference of the gallery at eye level (including across the main window), a raised plinth on the ground and a center piece of five small shelves to complete 60 linear meters of sculpture. The wooden sculptures and their light-hearted approach to conviviality can be seen as a continuation of the studio’s design ethos of applying local craftsmanship and artisanal skill to contribute to the creativity and positivity of their city, even in times of conflict. “We are providing an after life to a wasted bottle—as drunken as the ones that drank it.” The designers reflect. “It becomes a way to keep the party alive, to commemorate a specific moment by glorifying the wine and the making of the wine.”
Artifacts is on view now through January 15th at Carwan Gallery, D-Beirut Building, First Floor.