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Today is the VIP preview and Vernissage for EXPO Chicago, so that means the champagne will be flowing this evening as collectors and art lovers alike wind their way through the booths on Chicago’s Navy Pier. This year, the official champagne for the fair is Ruinart, a long time collaborator with artists and designers like Nacho Carbonell, Nendo, Gideon Rubin, and Hervé Van der Straeten.
On display in Chicago today through Sunday will be an installation of limited-edition champagne boxes designed by Ruinart’s latest collaborator, Piet Hein Eek. We’ve seen a few artist- and designer-crafted spirits cases lately, and we’ve become used to seeing shiny, bold new containers that reflect the opulence of a great glass of champagne. Eek’s take on the champagne box is a departure from that trend, and we like it.
A hallmark of Eek’s furniture design is reclaimed and recycled wood, so it was only natural for this project he followed a similar practice. He used pine in shades of cream and grey to create triangular boxes that snugly fit the Ruinart’s Blanc de Blancs bottle shape. Each one is unique, signed, and hand-made from the sanding and application of lacquer to the assembly. We love the contrast between the smooth glass bottled filled with bubbly and the more rugged, robust wooden case.
But it wasn’t all about aesthetics for Eek. His design inspiration came from Ruinart’s revolutionary use of wooden boxes (rather than baskets) for shipping in the late 18th-century, decades before other champagne houses would do so.
In Chicago, 72 wooden boxes and modules will be shown in the Northern Trust VIP Collector’s Lounge at the fair, where you can enjoy a glass of Blanc de Blancs for yourself.