Champagne house Perrier Jouët and designers Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler present Curiosity Cloud, a new chandelier created by the Austrian duo reflecting on the relationship between man and nature. Unveiled at Design Miami, the piece is inspired by the fair’s 2020 theme of America(s).

The creative partnership between the designers and Perrier Jouët dates back to 2014, when the pair created an interactive installation titled Ephemerā, reproducing the instinctive nature of plants. The project originates from mischer’traxler’s interest in biodiversity and the natural world, elements that have always been present throughout their projects and pieces for private clients and public institutions. Curiosity Cloud was originally conceived by the designers as a site-specific installation presented by Perrier Jouët at the V&A in 2015, and now newly-evolved into a piece that offers a fitting response to Design Miami’s 2020 theme. The champaigne maison and the designers are once again collaborating on a new piece, to be unveiled in 2021 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Perrier-Jouët at Design-Miami.

The installation in Miami features the bown glass interactive chandelier as well as a vitrine outlining the species featured in the piece

‘We really enjoy the collaboration [with Perrier Jouët]: on the one hand, we share many values, such as the interest in nature and its materialization, the importance of craftsmanship, the attention to detail,’ says Thomas Traxler. ‘And on the other hand we also got a lot of freedom, we could create our own worlds. It’s very encouraging, we can evolve in this way.’ The pair’s work has traditionally delved into the relationship between man and nature and the importance of biodiversity, also ideals shared by Perrier Jouet, whose heritage revolves around the artistic principles of Art Nouveau and a symbiotic relationship with nature. 

Curiosity Cloud takes these elements to the next level. At first glance, the new chandelier’s 22 mouth-blown glass bulbs (created for the occasion by Viennese glass company Lobmeyr) appear as soft, glowing lights, with a hint of movement inside. Getting closer reveals faithful laser-cut reproductions of insects concealed inside of each, which start moving more intensely, their wings fluttering, once someone is in close proximity: approaching the piece offers a poetic experience of immersion in nature.

’With its reinvention of nature and combination of traditional craft and modern technology, Curiosity Cloud clearly echoes the ethos of the Art Nouveau movement, which profoundly influenced the cultural heritage of Maison Perrier-Jouët,’ says Axelle de Buffévent, Style Director of Perrier-Jouët.

Curiosity cloud by mischer’traxler and Perrier Jouet at Design Miami
The mouth-blown glass shapes were created by Austrian glassmkaers Lobmeyr

For this iteration of Curiosity Cloud, mischer’traxler researched species specific to North America, and divided them into four categories: common, endangered, extinct and invasive. It’s a combination chosen by the designers to illustrate the impact of humans activities on nature and biodiversity. The species include the Franklin’s Bumblebee (endemic to southern Oregon and northern California, and last seen in 2006), common ladybirds and honeybees and insects such as the Cabbage White butterfly (accidentally introduced to North America in 1860) and the Spotted Lantern Fly (first appeared in New York in 2017).

Designers Thomas Traxler and Katharina Mischer, of Austrian design studio mischer’traxler

Like many of mischer’traxler’s works, Curiosity Cloud is a thoroughly researched and informative piece, telling a story of nature through an experiential moment. ‘With our interactive projects, we aim at touching viewers on an emotional level, creating a very immediate and very honest reaction,’ says Traxler. ‘And then we usually offer the possibility to learn more about the topic. You can learn about not only the diversity of insects, but also the different layers of extinct, common, endangered and invasive species. The first impact is visual and emotional, but then there is still an effect of theoretical and scientific displacement.’

Since it was first conceived in 2017, the project has acquired new meaning. ‘We feel that due to the pandemic, we all realised that we are much more connected to nature than we though,’ says Traxler ‘We are all a part of nature and are one element in this huge network, and we think that this fact got much more visible and tangible this year.’§