Daniel Libeskind: “I wanted to push the boundary of the design”
In a meeting of visionary minds, Richard Hennessy's legacy finds a contemporary incarnation in a bold and architectural decanter in Baccarat crystal, designed by the world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind.
When designing the Richard Hennessy decanter, Daniel Libeskind immersed himself in the richness of history and dedication to craft. The result: a decanter that is as visionary as the man who inspired it. He started with a classic cognac bottle shape, imbuing the geometric, crystalline forms of Baccarat crystal with soft, organic curves, bringing new energy and complexity to the cognac it contains, all while capturing the founder's spirit.
Libeskind was immediately inspired at the prospect of creating a new decanter for the brand. "I have admired Hennessy for many years—it is the epitome of heritage luxury— so I was honoured to take on the challenge," Libeskind recalls. "The design process began several years ago with the common goal of creating something spectacular and rare," he continues. Libeskind displays an infectious enthusiasm, inhabited by an unfailing optimism, when explaining his choices and creative process: "It's quite organic, but it always starts with a spark of inspiration—an idea or a place or even a sense—and then expands into a flame of possibilities! The decanter was developed over many years — like a major city plan or cathedral. I always begin by creating hand sketches to work out my first ideas— sometimes hundreds are made," he discloses. "Once I have a strong idea and sketch, I work with my design team to develop the form further on the computer. We then create 3D models that we can further develop. We approached the design the same way Hennessy creates its cognacs—slow and methodically. This gave us the space to explore the ritual of drinking cognac and how it translates to the design of the decanter," he continues.
Before designing something new, Libeskind takes the time to immerse himself in his immediate surroundings: "I am inspired by the interplay of history and the future—a particular magic happens when the two come together. The inspiration for the decanter came from the powerful emblem of Richard Hennessy and symbol of the future of the brand. I wanted to honour the history while elevating it," he says.
Libeskind rarely takes half measures; he advocates ambition and risk-taking, exploring stories about the subjects he usually takes on, always aiming to elucidate his process and demystify the field. "It was an amazing experience to delve into the world of Richard Hennessy—to taste the various cognacs in the Hennessy collection, to visit the cellars, and submerge myself in the rich tradition of the Maison. And to have the space and the time to reflect on the ritual of the drinking cognac was such a unique and enjoyable experience," he discloses.
In the architecture world, few designers can claim to have a more clearly-defined style than Libeskind. Much of Libeskind's work is instantly recognisable for its angular forms, intersecting planes, and frequent use of diagonally-sliced windows, a style that he has used to great effect in museums and memorials—but which he has equally adapted to conference centers, skyscrapers, and shopping malls. The Hennessy decanter is no exeption:
"I started with the classic Hennessy bottle shape, but I wanted to push the boundary of the design. We also wanted to create something strong that embodies the legacy of Richard Hennessy. The result was to insert the soft curved shape within the crystalline form that echoes the spirit of Richard Hennessy. The juxtaposition of the organic curves with the bold geometric form of the silhouette gives a new energy and complexity to the liquid inside." Inspired by Richard Hennessy’ story, Libeskind reveils that it was "the rich history and dedication to the tradition of the craft" that guided him through the design process.
As the architect behind high-profile designs such as Berlin’s Jewish Museum and New York’s Ground Zero site plan, Libeskind has drawn criticism over the years for his often unconventional and angular works. In his view, he is simply trying to create a design that tells a story. “It has to tell you something,” he once proclaimed. His architectural background inspired him for the design of the decanter as well, and can be recognised at first glance.
"Cognac and architecture are not as different as you may think. There is a complexity, process and structure to cognac just as there is in architecture. My creative process is deeply informed by music, literature, poetry, and philosophy. I relish bringing a myriad of ideas from different backgrounds to the design of kin objects. I believe it elevates and brings new meaning to the design."
As for his personal taste when it comes to cognac, he firmly believes that cognac ignites creative conversation. "My wife and I enjoy the tradition of ending an evening —whether it is a special occasion or just a beautiful meal at home— with a glass of Hennessy to reflect on the day," he says. And when asked about the Richard Hennessy blend, one that he has been drinking for decades, he discloses that the blend wakes up his senses and calms his busy mind. "The complexity of the Richard Hennessy blend is both nuanced and bold—I can sense the history and rich tradition in the flavours," he discloses laughingly.
Confident and assertive, this exceptional blend is made from some of the scarcest eaux-de-vie in Hennessy's reserves, carefully selected and preserved in The Founder's Cellar on the family estate.
For this reason, Richard Hennessy cognac has been crafted in an extremely limited quantity: 12 tierçons, a historic barrel handcrafted in French oak by generations of cooper masters at Hennessy's own tonnellerie, or barrel-making workshop.
In a meeting of visionary minds, Richard Hennessy's monumental legacy finds a contemporary incarnation in a bold, architectural, and graceful decanter in Baccarat crystal, as well as ritual accessories (glasses, a fusil, and a tray) designed by the world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind.
A masterpiece for a masterpiece, this aesthetically striking decanter is an art object in its own right that brilliantly expresses the character of Richard Hennessy and the cognac he inspired: it is visionary, complex, and unapologetically intense.
For Richard Hennessy, Daniel Libeskind immersed himself in the richness of history and dedication to craft to design a bottle that is as visionary as the man who inspired it. To capture the founder's spirit, he started with a classic cognac bottle shape, imbuing the geometric, crystalline forms of Baccarat crystal with soft, organic curves that bring new energy and complexity to the cognac it contains.
The result is at once intuitive and unexpected: a monumental tribute to a pioneer.
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