Last year, Perrier-Jouët enlisted Austrian creative duo mischer’traxler to create an immersive installation at Design Miami/ (see Wallpaper* 189). With Ephemera, the pair looked at plants and flowers, recreating their silhouettes on a tabletop and bringing them to life with vibrantly stained veneer. The creatures – which 'grew' from the table’s surface – would flatten down when someone approached them; a poetic interpretation of the relationship between humans and nature.
‘When Perrier-Jouët approached us to develop a new project, we thought it would be nicer and more logic[al] not to tell a completely new story, but to continue the story we started with Ephemera,’ explains Katharina Mischer. Their new work, Curiosity Cloud, will debut at this September's London Design Festival, in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s grandiose Norfolk Hall Music Room.
250 hand-blown glass vessels (produced by Lobmeyr in collaboration with the designers) will hang from the room’s ceiling, each housing a reproduction of an insect which will react to movement by flying inside the glass globes, producing light and sound.
‘We wanted to show the species in an alive way and reacting to the audience,’ explains Mischer's colleague and studio co-Founder Thomas Traxler. ‘We think it is important to see humans as part of our surrounding nature and not excluded from it like an observer. We are part of it, we have an impact. In Curiousity Cloud [we see] some sort of chaos and impulse we bring into a set surrounding. The swarm of insects reacts nervously but beautifully at the same time.’
In preparation for the project, the duo engaged in an intensive period of research into the natural world, looking at common species such as bees, butterflies and fireflies, as well as extinct and newly-discovered insects from Asia and South America. In total, Curiosity Cloud features 25 species of common, rare and new insects, all selected following an aesthetic criteria. ‘We prefer real insects since it does not make any sense to us to come up with our own fantasy insects if the real world is full of fascinating little creatures anyway. We think there is an importance to point that out,' the designers explain. ‘Referring to reality means [creating] a closer connection to the natural world and to highlight it.’ The fantasy element, they concede, is derived from the fact that those species come from such disparate geographic locations and environments.
To create the creatures, the pair printed wing patterns onto transparent foil and then laser-cut them for precision, before attaching them to bodies and antennae made of felt, nylon and different threads. Each insect is then affixed to the inside of its globe with a thin wire, allowing an emulation of natural movement. The pair worked closely with Lobmeyr to develop the glass parts, and with Viennese metal-spinning company Wilhelm Seidl to engineer the movement at the top of each jar.
The installation will mark a further step in the year-long collaboration between mischer’traxler and Perrier-Jouët, revealing a new chapter in the champagne house’s celebration of Art Nouveau’s organic forms and natural expressions.