Frank Gehry on Designing His Striking, Limited-Edition Bronze Hennessy Bottle
The renowned Los Angeles architect is known for designing the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the blocky, gnarled exterior of the MIT Stata Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as for hundreds of major projects around the world some of the most famous fortified wines of the world. However, he's not a great drinker. Imagine that. Here he shows his passion for solving the world's beautiful problems through beautiful design.
They went from buildings to bottles. What do you like about the bottle design?
The Hennessy X.O Cognac commemorates its 150th anniversary. The limited edition is coated with bronze. I usually work with surfaces on a much larger scale. It's so much easier to work on a small scale and to occupy that.
If drinking isn't your thing, what attracted you?
The folklore of the Cognac region, the intensity of the Hennessy family's commitment to quality. We connected. Your commitment felt like my own commitment. It was really alluring how they sat in a room and tried hundreds of samples to create a special mix.
How did you come up with the crumpled form of the limited edition?
At the time, I was working on a larger scale, two feet square, with broken glass for a desk I made for a building in Chicago. With glass, you can't predict how it will crack. I love this ignorance. There was a synchronicity between this thinking and the perfection of the cognac. A yin and yang. Absolute perfection and something completely unexpected. That made sense to me.
Frank Gehry Hennessy anniversary
Do you have a creative ethos?
I worked on a jazz opera with saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Jazz musicians explore the unknown on the fly. He says, "You can't rehearse something that you haven't invented." Creativity is like that.
Her first home is now a landmark in Santa Monica, California. What do you love about the house you now live in?
That my son designed it. He's been watching me for a long time. Picked up on my love for large pieces of wood. I also love my collection of artwork from friends. I have a painting by Ken Price. He mostly did sculpture, but I have one of his rare paintings.
What problems can design solve?
A commitment to make beauty. There are things we can't fix like homelessness. But beauty can have an impact. However, our society is not designed to work that way. I worked with the VA Hospital in LA to design homes for the homeless that matter to them and become a place they want to live. I learned that it takes a lot of space for the homeless to live there.
It costs as much money to build it ugly as it does to build it beautifully. When I built my first home in Santa Monica for $ 50,000, it wasn't expensive. It doesn't have to be expensive to create beauty. Nature makes it free. If you allow it.
We live on the planet with people who are suffering and we can help them.
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