VEUVE FOR LIFE
ADAM GOODRUM IS THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN TO COLLABORATE WITH VEUVE CLICQUOT, IN A TRIBUTE TO THE WOMAN WHO TRANSFORMED CHAMPAGNE AND THE CHAMPAGNE BUSINESS
Australian designer Adam Goodrum honours the creative spirit of the Widow Cliquot
Acolour says a lot about a brand. Any woman who has ever considered marriage knows what the little blue box means, while shoppers with discerning taste like presents that come packaged in a particular shade of orange. Like Tiffany & Co. and Hermes, champagne house Veuve Clicquot is known for the vivid streak of yellow that wraps around its bottles, and at events and venues around the world, from Bondi Icebergs to the annual polo in New York, whether in umbrellas or ice buckets or festive flutes, that shade of yellow signals a good time waiting to be had.
When the brand commissioned industrial designer Adam Goodrum to create a limited edition stool, the colour was non-negotiable. “It was a pretty open brief as far as these types of projects go, and [Veuve Clicquot] was really only specific about where the logo would go and the colour,” Goodrum says. He is just back from visiting the house’s historic cellars in Reims, in France’s Champagne region, and Milan, where Veuve unveiled a number of other design projects as part of Salone del Mobile. “I like to find creative solutions to the briefs I’m given. I like my studio to be known for that kind of thing,” Goodrum says.
The designer was first introduced to Veuve Clicquot in 2014 as a judge of the Australian final of its Re-creation Awards, which invited designers to submit a treatment for a version of the classic American tin mailbox. A platform to showcase innovative design from emerging artists the world over, the contest had a high profile, transporting 18 finalists to Hotel du Marc, Veuve’s chateau in Reims, with the winning design — this year by Canadian Eileen Ugarkovic — reproduced and sold globally.
“Veuve Clicquot mentioned at the time that they wanted to work on a project but we didn’t know what form it would take,” says Goodrum. “It has been an evolving discussion.” He was inspired, he says, by Madame Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, an heir to the champagne house and the widow in the brand name. Not only did she transform the house into a global business; in 1816 she revolutionised its manufacturing process with the invention of the riddling rack, in which bottles are placed neck-down on an angle so that the sediment, which would cloud and taint the champagne, can fall into the neck, then be frozen into a plug and extracted through the opening. “I really liked that her riddling table had a thought process behind it,” he says. From a flat table with holes in the surface, its design evolved into an A-frame to maximise its usage, reducing its footprint and allowing easier removal of the sediment.
In response, Goodrum set out to create a piece that was not only functional but had a sense of invention to it. The result is the Riddling Stool, a seat that can hold a bottle of champagne (at a riddling angle) and then fold
out to hang flat on a wall hook. The laser-cut aluminum is powder-coated in the house’s signature yellow. “I was mindful that if it’s going to be used in a restaurant or bar then it needs to have a second function on the wall, and so the logo is intentionally placed in a position that makes it visible when it’s lying flat, almost like a wall sculpture.”
While the design addresses the functional and aesthetic needs of Veuve Clicquot, it fits comfortably within Goodrum’s design practice, which demonstrates a continuing interest in the simple manipulation of form. “When I was at university I lived in my workshop, with the kitchen table my workspace. There I began this love of playing with cardboard and paper and the way I could fold it to create these different forms, and I’ve created a number of pieces [in my career] where that language is still at play,” he says, citing the influence of Alexander Calder, the American originator of the hanging sculpture or mobile. “I appreciate simple geometry and articulation, but also that the brand is fun. I mean, they’ve got a yellow Bentley zooming around Reims,” he adds.
Goodrum’s profile has risen to the point that he is now respected as one of Australia’s leading industrial designers. In the past decade, his designs have been produced by furniture manufacturers including Cappellini, Normann Copenhagen and Cult, with several of his pieces under the banner of Broached Commissions forming part of the eclectic and textural interiors of Canberra’s award-winning Hotel Hotel. Julian Ceder, Veuve Clicquot’s head of design, says Goodrum was a simple choice for the brand’s first collaboration with an Australian designer. “Adam’s Riddling Stool is a stunning piece of design, very modern but with a clear provenance,” he says.
It’s not the first time that Veuve Clicquot has engaged with the design world. In the spirit of the entrepreneurial and much-revered Widow, it has embraced the design world as part of its own, collaborating with industrial designers on the creation of everything from merchandise and bar equipment to large-scale architectural pavilions emblematic of the brand’s motifs, such as the shape of its bottle or the meteor comet that forms part of its logo. It was Madame Clicquot, after all, who said: “Invent the things of tomorrow ... go before others. Act with audacity.”
To walk through Hotel du Marc is to tick off a rollcall of the leading names in design: Tom Dixon, the Campana brothers Humberto and Fernando, Mathieu Lehanneur, Pablo Reinoso and Front Design among them. Porsche Design Studio has created a fridge titled Vertical Limit that houses and chills some of the brand’s most precious wines, with steel cavities that open in a crisscrossing motion to reveal the magnum bottles within. Elsewhere, a gilded writing desk — a nod to Madame Clicquot’s regular business duties — is punctured with a vivid yellow hole in which sits a champagne bucket, one of several pieces designed by Italian designer Ferruccio Laviani.
Under the umbrella of LVMH, the luxury conglomerate that owns, among its many brands, Louis Vuitton, Moët & Chandon and Givenchy, each liquor house has its own cultural and philanthropic focus. Where Veuve Clicquot looks to design to infuse its brand culture with a sense of contemporary vitality, its fellow French champagne house Ruinart is a visual arts patron, sponsoring art events such as Sydney Contemporary and the Melbourne Art Fair, and collaborating with contemporary artists such as Georgia Russell last year and Hubert Le Gall this year (as featured in WISH in May). Polish vodka brand Belvedere,
“THE BRAND IS FUN. I MEAN, THEY’VE GOT A YELLOW BENTLEY ZOOMING AROUND REIMS”
meanwhile, is known for its association with star-studded events like the Cannes Film Festival.
Although she is often credited as such, Madame Clicquot was not the founder of the champagne house. Rather, upon the death of her husband, Francois Clicquot, the son of the house’s founder, Philippe Clicquot-Muiron, the young widow took control of the house and, through her developments to its production, as with the riddling system, greatly expanded the global reach of the label, which became popular with royal courts throughout the world. Legend has it that despite the blockade of Imperial Russia in the early 19th century, such was the thirst for Veuve Clicquot’s famous champagne that it was shipped notwithstanding. It is here that Prussian guards are said to have invented the flashy technique of “sabring” bottles open with their swords.
That a woman should lead such economic growth of a company in this time is remarkable. As Jean MarcGallot, the house’s current chief executive, notes: “She was a woman in France at a time when our country was dominated by men, and she was perhaps the very first international entrepreneur.” It’s a detail the house is proud of and annually celebrates with its Business Woman Awards, honouring the success of female leaders. These have to date included Australian fashion designers Sarah Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton, formerly of Sass & Bide, T2 founder and chief executive Maryanne Shearer, and Museum of Contemporary Art director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, all of whom have travelled to Reims to add their name to the historic string of past winners that adorns the house’s vineyards, and to celebrate at Hotel du Marc.
When the next winner visits that chateau, they’ll find Goodrum’s Riddling Stool, where it will sit alongside pieces by these former Veuve Clicquot collaborators. At once a shrine to its history and a beacon of its forwardfacing spirit, the private 19th-century chateau has survived two world wars. LVMH acquired the Veuve Clicquot business in 1986, and in 2007 commissioned a renovation of the house, which had fallen into disrepair, with French architect Bruno Moinard in charge. Today, it blends the old with the new: the plasterwork of the high ceilings remains, but is rendered in charcoal grey and black; the central staircase forms an imposing entry, but its carpet runs the colour spectrum from deep burgundy on the ground floor to creamy white on the upper, reflecting the wines that make up a rosé champagne; and a vintage portrait of Madame Clicquot is covered in vivid red dots, a bespoke commission by Japanese artist (and Louis Vuitton collaborator) Yayoi Kusama. Hotel du Marc is, in essence, the Veuve Clicquot world — its history, its creative collaborators — encapsulated.
For CEO Gallot, engaging with the design world isn’t a radical gesture but simply staying true to the spirit of Madame Clicquot. “She invented many things which we still use today,” he explained at the house’s event in collaboration with the design magazine Wallpaper at Salone del Mobile, with whom it had partnered to present an exhibition of handmade objects inspired by food, and to announce Ugarkovic as the winner of the Re-creation Award. “Even here, the winner is Canadian but could have been from anywhere in the world — Japan, Australia, South America — because we have long been a global company. It’s important to be consistent with your original vision. Being international today is obvious for a brand, but 240 years ago it was not. Madame Clicquot was a true innovator and that’s what we like to be today.”
ENGAGING WITH THE DESIGN WORLD ISN’T A RADICAL GESTURE BUT SIMPLY STAYING TRUE TO THE SPIRIT OF MADAME CLICQUOT
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Adam Goodrum’s design for the Riddling Stool, in flattened form above and as a seat below left, is a response to the innovation by Madame Clicquot that gave sparkling wine its clarity Aesop chief executive Michael O’Keefe says botanical-based cosmetics...
The house’s signature yellow is everywhere at Veuve Clicquot’s Reims chateau, the Hotel du Marc