The Interior Design of Wine

ID1 Isn't it true that how we view the act of winemaking will in part, perhaps large part, determine how we appreciate wine? I think it is true. So, consider the following...

"In their hands disparate element—styles, materials, color—came together creating rooms that delighted the senses and engaged the mind."

"Confidence defined these designers. Their willingness to take aesthetic risks set them apart from their peers."

"Styles com and go. What is popular in one decade may be unpopular in the next, then return to favor 30 years later. But good design, whether it is a gilded ballroom in the palace of Versailles or an austere living room in an Arizona ranch house. An appreciative eye can always embrace the best, wherever it is and whatever its age or style."

This is the commentary that accompanied Architectural Digest's recent list of "The World's 20 Greatest ID3 (interior) Designers of All Time". Isn't it true that the very same things, worded only very slightly differently, could be said about the greatest winemakers of all time? And if this is so, then I have to wonder what the principles, controversies and the design canon of the world of interior design has to offer to our own understanding of wine.

But first, let's ask this: Are interior designers analogous to winemakers? By golly I do believe they are.

-Both make a living delivering a "Style"

-Both use various ingredients to produce their own stylistic version of a common thing (home interior/wine)

-Both would be rightly considered craftsmen, rather than artists.

-The results of their craftsmanship are both judged for their aesthetic pleasure

ID2 However, as far as I can see the primary difference between what winemakers and interior designers do (besides what they produce) is that the interior designer tends to produce for a single client that tends to have their own ideas and visions of what they want, while the winemaker produces for a market. This is a very important distinction in my view.

Still, It is appropriate I think to try to broaden our understanding of wine by looking at what interior designers do, what they have to work with, who they work for and how their work is judged.

For instance, it is always the case that the interior designer must take into account the constraint of the walls that bound the room and the vista that the room is given through its windows and doors. What boundaries are winemakers constrained by (or should be constrained by)? Can we say that the grape variety a winemaker uses is a constraint? Most certainly. The winemaker, no matter what style of wine he pursues, must know that he will have to manage or work around or work with noticeable tannins when his raw material consists of mountain grown Cabernet. The winemaker must take into account the constraint that is modest sugar when he works with Chardonnay taken from extremely cold climes. Constraint is an interesting way to consider the winemaker's craft.

Another aspect of the work of great interior designers that might help us better understand or appreciate ID4 wine is by considering that many of the greatest interior designers were considered innovators. They developed an approach and style of design that was literally new (or at least perfected or expanded on a trend). Can a winemaker be considered an "innovator" in the way they produce wine? I think it's possible to appreciate winemakers for their innovation. Consider Ehren Jordan's work with Turley Cellars. These wines DID seem new when they emerged huge and concentrated into the market. When you consider the elegant and complex wines Jordan makes over at his own Failla, his work at Turley seem all the more impressive.
Are there other examples of innovation in winemaking?

Finally, consider that the designer is in reality creating something that will ultimately be lived in. It will be the milieu in which thinking, feeling, caring human beings experience life, making the designer something of a participant in the lives of those who use or experience their work. Is this an attribute one can apply to wine and the winemaker? It's true that wines that we remember tend to be remembered because of the moments they accompanied. But do they shape those moments the way a living room strewn with iconic pieces from the Mid Century Modern style can shape the movement, comfort and perhaps discourse that accompanies a get together of importance?

I suppose the point is this: I think our continuing education where wine is concerned depends in great part on our ability to see wine and the act of winemaking through various different lenses. By doing so we start to think a little differently about the liquid we love. Winemaker as Designer is an interesting lens.

11 Responses

  1. jimmy - December 29, 2009

    hey Tom – what happened to the video blogs? I liked them.

  2. Fun & Fact - December 29, 2009

    You always come up with great stuff I just love your site you are very talented I’ll recommend your site to my friends and family members great job very appreciated..keep it up..

  3. Helpmegoto - December 30, 2009

    Hi nice post and I liked the pictures…

  4. Jessica Roma - December 30, 2009

    Great post – very interesting angle!

  5. Wally - January 2, 2010

    I would agree that New World and international-style wine makers have a lot in common with designers. I can’t say the same when I’m drinkng a Brunel Les Cailloux, a Bruno Giacosa or Ch. Montrose. Even a simple Cotes du Rhône is what it is. This is the essence of the Old World/New World dichotomy. A traditional European vintner doesn’t think of themselves as ” making” the wine. Guiding the process would be as much as they would be willing to admit. I like California and Aussie wines but for rare exceptions like Martha’s Vyd. they say more about the person than the place.

  6. interior design courses - January 4, 2010

    I like the third design of the dinning room, the borrow color makes feel clam.

  7. Homedesign1 - January 13, 2010

    Cool designing and settings in the snaps 🙂

  8. rod pallain - January 19, 2010

    Wow! Congratulations, that is an amazing opportunity with all you discussing about The Interior Design of Wine , I am so happy for you!

  9. Jan Pohl - January 21, 2010

    I like the style in that you design the living room

  10. philippine real estate - February 3, 2010

    This is my first visit to your blog and looking on, I’m impressed! Great design! I like your content!
    Deirdre G

  11. home inspection nightmare - September 17, 2010

    Elegant designs! To design something like this you really need to have a great mind of imagination. love it.

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