If you seek poetry in glass, look no further than Emile Gallé. A pioneer in both glassmaking and the Art nouveau movement, the French artist is celebrated for designs that reference and serve as a tribute to nature. But beyond motifs and forms, Gallé achieved something deeper. Each piece represented the balance that nature possesses: Light and dark, form and function, still and motion. Instead of playing two opposites against each other, the artist marries both in harmony. Along with fellow glassmaker and jeweller Rene Lalique, Gallé peaked in the late 19th and early 20th century. His legacy still lives on, immortalised in esteemed institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian and the Louvre.
Closer to home, you'll be pleased to note that a piece of Gallé is present in a glass of bubbly. Not just any celebratory toast — one that proudly wears the anemone emblem in a glass of Perrier-Jouët. Founded in 1811 in Épernay, the boutique French champagne house roped in Gallé to design its signature motif in 1902. The anemone, while delicate and pretty in form, was a force of nature to artists of that period. Impressionist painters such as Matisse and Monet included the Japanese flower in their art at a time when artists were incorporating 'Japonisme' into their work. Just as how you'd have a Francophile in one too many friends, Japanese fine arts, sculpture, architecture, performing arts and decorative arts were influencing France on a grand scale. Van Gogh himself admired Japanese artists for the way they lived in harmony with nature.
It wasn't until 1964 that Gallé's anemone was placed on the first Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque vintage. It made complete sense, with the swirls of the white flowers echoing the floral and delicate style of the wine. Anemone flowers close up at night and open again in the morning, capturing that essence of light and dark.
An afternoon spent with Perrier-Jouët's seventh cellar master Hervé Deschamps will explore the complexities that lie encased within a complex creature like the anemone. A glass of Grand Brut, for example, punctuates this with the acidity of lemon that perfumes your nose after the aroma of peaches and apples. There's no aggression associated with a Perrier-Jouët cuvee, as everything blends elegantly on the palate. In Tokyo for 'L'Eden', the house's celebration of art, Deschamps arrived just in time for a party that shipped Perrier-Jouët's commissioned work with artist duo Luftwerk out of its home in Miami.
Residing at the delightfully hip Trunk Hotel in one of the streets in Tokyo's tree-lined Omotesando neighbourhood (where skateboard shops, food trucks and an avocado café share the same area code as Supreme and Balmain), 'Becoming' is a digital installation that first debuted at Design Miami last year. Moving on from the interactive artwork by digital artist Miguel Chevalier for L'Eden Tokyo in 2017, Perrier-Jouët roped in the dynamic art duo, Luftwerk, to work on a wild canvas that enchants with lights and projections.
Since 2012, Perrier-Jouët has been a partner of the global design forum, lining up collaborations with artists such as mischer'traxler, Ritsue Mishima, Studio Glithero and Daniel Arsham. Perrier-Jouët's artistic arm isn't a newfound hobby. Its founders Pierre-Nicolas Perrier and Rose Adélaide Jouët had a healthy appetite for art, a love that has carried through till today. If you visit the newly-restored family heritage home, Maison Belle Époque, you'll find Europe's largest private collection of French Art Nouveau, with masterpieces by Hector Guimard, Louis Majorelle, François-Rupert Carabin and of course, Gallé himself.
Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero make up Luftwerk: Luft is German for 'air', while Werk is 'facility' or 'work'. The Chicago-based artists are known for their public light and projection-based installations, and have worked on themes such as climate change. Their fluid way of working together for the last 18 years is evident in the way guests are fully immersed in the installation, projected onto the ceiling.
A trip to Épernay and a meeting with Deschamps have fed Luftwerk with the understanding of the life cycle of a bottle of Perrier-Jouët. Interested in organic forms and how nature informs art, Luftwerk went back to Galle's anemone motif, using light to reveal its unseen layers. Inspired by the darkness and sense of infinite space in Épernay, the artists were keen on showing aspects of what's invisible: The years a bottle spent in the dark cellars, the hidden layers of Galle's designs, and the structures put in place before the champagne glass arrives at the height of a toast. By manipulating light and colour to transform the space atop Trunk Hotel, visitors were taken on a journey that deconstructed the life and times of champagne.
L'Eden's third year in Tokyo went out with a bang, as intended. Leaves and ferns in cobalt blue and magenta flirt with textures that mimic a lush forest. Echoing the spirit of Luftwerk's installation is Okio Studio, who have specially created a virtual reality experience at the lobby of Trunk Hotel. It's the Parisian producers' first time working with a champagne brand — they're used to working on VR films such as I Philip and Alteration. Again, the play on lightness and darkness fascinated the producers, who also travelled to Épernay for the project. They've remodeled the cellar as one of the key highlights in a reimagined garden of Eden. As you roam around the universe of Perrier-Jouët, you'll get to experience all four seasons in just five and a half minutes, as energy particles gather from your seemingly bare hands.
Saddled up at Trunk Bar shortly after, raising a glass of Perrier-Jouët once again seems appropriate. It isn't just a toast to good times, but a deeper appreciation for the anemone emblem's storied origin, our thirst for artistic collaborations and the champagne house that continues to surprise us.