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Ceremonial object

Inanimate objects, do you have a soul which sticks to our soul and forces it to love?
— Alphonse de Lamartine
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The Way of wine requires an altar for celebrating wine, a centre of gravity around which its ritual can be performed, an object with the power to create a sacred field, a sort of magnetic force in which the guests congregate. This object is no substitute for the wine master’s practice, but allows him or her to raise it to a new art form.

Created by Thierry Forbois, vascellums, the vessels of service used during the Wine Ceremony, require over 500 hours of skilled artisanal labour to create. They are veritable living sculptures designed for serving legendary bottles of up to 6 litres in format.

These beautiful lines insisted on being traced … With wonder increasing every instant, I saw that they “composed” themselves, by finer laws than any known of men.
— John Ruskin

Thierry Forbois: on the vascellum

I wanted to create something unprecedented. From a technical standpoint, the Wine Ceremony’s vascellum is arguably the most sophisticated object ever designed for serving and decanting wine. But that’s not why I love it. I love its daring and insolence.

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For me, it’s not the successful grafting of an artificial heart into the body of a work of art. It shows that we can go beyond the perceived divergence between art and science. The beautiful and the useful are not additions, but symbiotically coexist, inseparable from the whole. As if the pleasing sight of a curve also offered the best design solution for a device in terms of shape, or as if from the perfect device for a performing a certain function, the harmony of a curve suggested itself. To perceive it solely as a work of art is a mistake. To perceive it solely as a useful tool is just as erroneous. Its nature is something else, undefinable, and therein lies its mystery.

It’s also a work of resistance! An object that goes against today’s dominant production trend of mass-producing objects whose industrial esthetic, even when cleverly designed, utterly fails to resonate with our being, with who we really are. From smart phones to cars and can-openers, we are surrounded by impeccably designed objects, ingenious devices that please our senses, but are mute when it comes to our souls. It’s the difference between bay windows in a building and the stained glass at Chartres Cathedral. The same light passes through them both. Inside the former, it shines on us; inside the latter, it speaks to us…

Picture plate of the Vessel of Service, from the Way of wine manuscript, Thierry Forbois, May 2012

Picture plate of the Vessel of Service, from the Way of wine manuscript, Thierry Forbois, May 2012