Rémy Martin celebrates the power of collaboration
The Cognac house enlisted London-based ceramicist Reiko Kaneko to work with The Connaught’s award-winning bar team on a multisensory project
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Rémy Martin enlisted ceramicist Reiko Kaneko for a project that celebrates savoir-faire and collaboration through a multidisciplinary approach. Launched during London Craft Week, ‘Flint’ is a new cocktail developed by The Connaught’s Director of Mixology, Agostino Perrone and the Connaught Bar Head of Mixology, Giorgio Bargiani, using Rémy Martin XO and served in a specially-created vessel by Kaneko.
‘We wanted to create a tactile experience that could be part of the [Connaught] guests’ journey,’ explains Perrone. ‘There is a lot of research behind how we transform the ingredients.’ This constant experimentation is echoed in Kaneko’s work, based on transforming raw matter into tactile objects with a distinct aesthetic. Kaneko, Perrone and Bargiani worked closely together to develop a form that complemented the new cocktail, developing shape, texture and decoration as a unified team.
Flint (a name chosen by the mixologists that signifies the spark of creativity and also happens to reference the stone found in both Kaneko’s raw materials and in Rémy Martin’s vineyards) features Rémy Martin XO, blended with lactofermented melon, Chartreuse and Pink Pomelo Soda - combining floral and citrus notes as well as a spicy element into the mix. The concoction is served on a chunk of ice, adding a heft to the vessel that enhances a very tactile experience.
Approaching the design project with a collaborative artisanal attitude, the trio discovered several similarities in their respective crafts and in the work of Rémy Martin. Since 1724, the French maison has worked to develop the most refined blend of Cognac from Fine Champagne grapes and Rémy Martin XO is the embodiment of this centuries-old tradition. A blend of up to 400 different eaux-de-vie created by the maison’s Cellar Master, the cognac becomes the epitome of excellence, constant dedication and experimentation. This was the starting point for the project, and the first collaborative session in Kaneko’s studio included working with grapevine leaves and chalk stone, elements that referenced Rémy Martin’s own terroir.
The final design is made of a black bone china body, featuring a glazed, smooth upper part (where the lips meet the vessel) and a rough texture where it’s held – this latter element was inspired by the diverse geography of the cognac region, and recreated by Kaneko using a cloth dipped in slip during the casting process. Visually, the piece features hits of red glaze (a subtle reference to the fire used to toast the barrels) and striking white flames which Kaneko hand-painted in white bone china on the inside of the vessel, a further nod to fire and to the chalky nature of the soil.
The trio recalls Perrone and Bargiani’s first visit to Kaneko at her workshop. Impeccably dressed in 3-piece suits, the pair walked into the dusty ceramics workshop feeling like stepping into Narnia. ‘At the beginning it might have looked like the people didn’t fit into that environment, but actually, 10 minutes into the visit, that initial feeling turned into familiarity and the collaboration developed from there,’ says Kaneko. What followed was hands-on collective experimentation which included traditional and contemporary techniques. ‘Working with technology as well, to visualise the vessel, was amazing: from abstract to liquid, to solid,’ says Perrone. ‘This project was very much a creative process, we were part of it. And the final shape of the vessel was really Reiko understanding our vision and embracing it.’
Finding the perfect ingredients, developing excellence over time and paying the utmost attention to detail are elements found in both the mixologists' and the ceramicist’s work, a common ground which became the basis for the collaboration. ‘It's been quite natural working together;’ says Kaneko. ‘And the experience of developing this project during a pandemic made us more aware of the fact that people need people; it’s the people and their talent that connect everything.’
Discover Flint at The Connaught Bar (opens in new tab) and find Rémy Martin XO at Waitrose (opens in new tab)
The Connaught Hotel
Melina Keays is the entertaining director of Wallpaper*. She has been part of the brand since the magazine’s launch in 1996, and is responsible for entertaining content across the print and digital platforms, and for Wallpaper’s creative agency Bespoke. A native Londoner, Melina takes inspiration from the whole spectrum of art and design – including film, literature, and fashion. Her work for the brand involves curating content, writing, and creative direction – conceiving luxury interior landscapes with a focus on food, drinks, and entertaining in all its forms
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