High spirits: JM Wilmotte’s Hennessy House museum gets immersive re-design

JM Wilmotte’s Hennessy House museum
French creative agency Aimko have redesigned the interior of JM Wilmotte’s Hennessy House museum in Cognac. Pictured: the shop, with furniture designed by Benjamin Graindorge, in wood, copper and glass
(Image credit: Aimko)

Redesigning a building originally created by celebrated French architect JM Wilmotte is a tall order. The task was bravely taken on by a team of under-the-radar designers and conceptual artists, overseen by French creative agency Aimko.

The building in question is Wilmotte's 1996 Hennessy House museum in Cognac, which is perched on the edge of an existing 19th century hotel and wine store. The outside of the building remains unchanged in respect of Wilmotte's design, while the inside has undergone a thoroughly modern rethink. 'It was both a chance and a challenge to work on JMW's iconic architecture', explains Aimko co-founder Nathanaël Léonian. 'All the buildings concerned by this project (including the historic wine warehouses) were important to us, and we wanted to retain their character.'

Inside, things are a little different. The wine store's interior has been shelled-out, and re-furnished in a selection of materials used in the creation of Hennessy, with oak, copper and glass featuring heavily. This re-fit also comprises a new series of immersive experiences called 'The Visits' (including lots of opportunities for tastings), elevating the museum's offerings to delicious new heights. 

'Immersion is not a tool but a goal in this type of project,' Léonian notes. 'The public visits Hennessy House not for pure entertainment but to learn about its history, know how and products.' The contemporary new look provides a clean base for these interactive digital stories, which are dotted around the darkened store room. The installations depict the long history of Hennessy, which was founded just around the corner from the museum in 1765, as well as explaining how that signature taste is achieved.

'I think we succeeded in combining a large number of disciplines, technologies and narrative formats to roll out the story,' Léonian adds. 'For instance, each oak pavilion in the renovated wine store has a specific architecture, technology and a narrative inspired by its video contents.'

The journey wobbles to a close with the Hennessy shop, a luxurious and glamorous take on an off-licence, which displays the full range of Hennessy products, on bespoke shelves designed by Benjamin Graindorge.

'Bringing together architects, designers, scenographers, directors and UX designers in a very open and collaborative process was our aim,' Léonian concludes. 'By doing this, it shows that Aimko's collaborative working philosophy fits perfectly with tricky, contemporary briefs.'

JM Wilmotte’s Hennessy House museum wine house

The museum re-fit includes a series of new immersive experiences called ’The Visits’. Pictured: inside the revamped wine house

(Image credit: Aimko)

Wilmotte’s Hennessy House museum

Léonian explains, ’The public visits Hennessy House not for pure entertainment but to learn about its history, know how and products.’ Pictured: one of the visual installations inside the revamped wine house

(Image credit: Aimko)

Tasting workshop

’I think we succeeded in combining a large number of disciplines, technologies and narrative formats to roll out the story,’ Léonian adds. Pictured: the tasting workshop, again featuring Benjamin Graindorge’s furniture

(Image credit: Aimko)

Inside wine housesat Willmote's museum

’For instance, each oak pavilion in the renovated wine store has a specific architecture, technology and a narrative inspired by its video contents.’ Pictured: inside the wine house, where ready-rusted metal evokes the now obsolete brandy distilling device, called the ’alembics’

(Image credit: Aimko)

Entrance to wine house at Wilmotte’s Hennessy House museum

’Bringing together architects, designers, scenographers, directors, and UX designers in a very open and collaborative process was our aim,’ Léonian concludes. Pictured: the entrance to the wine house

(Image credit: Aimko)

Museum interior

’By doing this, it shows that Aimko’s collaborative working philosophy fits perfectly with tricky, contemporary briefs.’ Pictured: inside the museum, where documents, photographs and memorabilia line the oak-framed walls

(Image credit: Aimko)

INFORMATION

For more information, visit the Aimko website (opens in new tab)

Photography courtesy Aimko

Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees Wallpaper.com and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.