The studio was approached by Brancott Estate, which created the world’s first Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in 1979 and disrupted the course of the New Zealand wine industry. To reflect its pioneering spirit, the company invited us to visit its vineyards in Marlborough and translate its spirit into a new form through design.
Upon visiting its vineyards, we immediately connected with the Brancott Estate team. We spoke the same language: the similarities between our shared dedication to pushing boundaries through new ideas, and appreciation for craftsmanship, was fascinating.
By the time we returned to New York, I had already sketched an idea. I envisioned an installation that appeared as if it grew from the ground in a grid in the same geometric orientation as the grapevines, while encapsulating the entire winemaking process with its static presence. Our permanent, site-specific sculpture will be erected in 2016 on Brancott Vineyard, where the first Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted.
Beginning as a flat matrix of CorTen steel, it stretches open to become a nine- meter-tall volume of aggregated triangulations. Its title, Under/standing, is a reference to how the vineyards and winemaking process informed the project as well as a statement by Buckminster Fuller, who believed that in order to fully understand something, one had to build it, then stand up under it. Bound together by an intricate connectivity, the elements create a beautiful complexity.
To further echo the experience of visiting the vineyards—where a bottle of wine acts as a special end result that visitors take home—we wanted to give a piece of the sculpture to visitors in the same way. We translated the installation’s geometry into a functional, smaller-scale object made of electro-coated steel, produced by New York manufacturer Bengal Fierro. Its title, Present, is a nod to the in-the-moment ritual of opening a bottle of wine. Its triangulations are the perfect size to accommodate up to six bottles of wine. Together, both elements serve as a thoughtful interpretation of Brancott Estate’s distinctive style of winemaking that simultaneously demonstrates the studio’s holistic approach to design.