Veuve Clicquot Busts Out of the Box

imageWhen you think of Veuve Clicquot, a number of things come to mind. Sweet, bubbly champagne. The iconic marigold color of the wrapper. The celebratory clinking of champagne flutes. The audaciously stocked wine chiller in Eddy’s basement in Absolutely Fabulous. Maybe even the wickedest hangover you’ve ever endured. But what probably won’t ring a bell right off the bat is innovative design, and we’re not talking about the traditional champagne bottle.

A few years back, after having mastered the art of the bubbly since 1772, the folks at Veuve Clicquot decided it was time to think out of the box and devoted a large portion of the company’s philosophy to the artistic side of design, spotlighting conceptual young designers and providing them with unique projects: to design something innovative based on their individually gratifying enjoyment of Veuve Clicquot, hence the birth of the Out of the Box project.

One of the first examples of Clicquot’s devotion to design took the form of the curiously pink loveseat designed by famed kitsch designer Karim Rashid in 2007.

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Based on the classic French loveseat design that seats two people facing each other with the intent on flourishing their mutual interests in one another, Rashid’s was a soft pink and featured an ice bucket in the center, ultimately positioned to accommodate the amorous juice only Veuve Clicquot Rosé Could provide (though not as colorfully coordinating, the regular champagne would do just as well). Making a splash not only because of its sheer boldness, the loveseat would become a steadfast icon of Clicquot’s unusual interest in design.

Fast-forward to April 2009 to the Milan-based Salone del Mobile Design Fair, a virtual city-wide celebration of all the fancy things that make a house a home. Literally starting from the bottom up, Veuve Clicquot gave three design teams from around the world renowned for both their avant-garde design and global innovation the chance to turn the DesignBox, Clicquot’s environmentally-sound, ecologically unique, and characteristically orange packaging, into something immortal. Left to their own devices with nary a border or limitation, the results were as artistically intriguing as they were functional.

British designer Tom Dixon, perhaps best known for his recycled metal-cum-collectors-dreams installation pieces, definitely didn’t take the smooth planes and sharp angles of the rectangular box into consideration when he embarked on his plan. Inspired by a comet seen in France’s Champagne region in 1811 that marked the year’s impeccable vintage, he geometrically figured the box into hundreds of facets, orange on one side and metallic gold on the other and fashioned a pendant lamp that’s as distinctive as it is ambient.

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French design firm 5.5 Designers kept things a little more traditional, but nonetheless produced a piece that’s both functional and fabulous. By preserving the shape of the box and its function to hold the champagne bottle, they constructed a working wine cellar, a white lacquer and Veuve Clicquot logo-emblazoned “world of champagne,” as they put it, complete with table, ice bucket and stool. It was a unique presentation of modernized tradition, and eerily reminiscent of what I visualize as the wall that corked the ill-fated Fortunato in the wine cellar in “The Cask of Amontillado.”

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Swedish rebels Front Design, four young women whose purdy faces are no mask for the renegade designers that reside within, not only thought out of the box, but they did it hundreds of times, rendering what they call the chaise lounge. What appears to be hundreds of Veuve Clicquot DesignBoxes randomly fixed together is actually an ergonomic piece of furniture that conforms to the curves and angles of the body that lies on it. Topographically resembling a blob, this rogue design was no mistake. “We wanted to create something that looks like something else — a functioning illusion,” the girls enthused.

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So next time you browse the booze joint, either for a thoughtful gift or something to keep you occupied for the night, give that beckoning orange box a second thought—it has quite a remarkable story to tell, and aside from setting the standard of what champagne should taste like, this bubbly sure thinks out of the box.

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