The world-renowned architect pays homage to the odyssey of the ‘Extra Old’ cognac with a 150th Anniversary Masterpiece
COGNAC, France, Sept. 28, 2020 — Hennessy is pleased to unveil a masterpiece decanter designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Hennessy X.O. Using his signature sculptural style to reinterpret Hennessy X.O’s iconic bottle, the prolific creator marries gold and glass to extol the rich legacy of the Hennessy Maison. The end result ushers in a fitting new era for the Extra Old Cognac with a striking design that encapsulates Frank Gehry’s trademark unconventional aesthetic with Hennessy’s daring sensibilities.
To discover Hennessy X.O is to discover an unexpected sensorial experience. This ethos is exemplified with an exclusive, limited run of 150 extraordinary numbered decanters, imprinted with Frank Gehry’s signature. A wider release of limited-edition Hennessy X.O bottles also created by Frank Gehry, will launch in markets worldwide to further celebrate this exceptional collaboration.
150 years after its creation, at the 2020 harvest season, Hennessy X.O commissioned a remarkable World Odyssey, unveiling Frank Gehry’s creation to the world on September 25th on the same day as the epic, ephemeral daytime firework event by artist Cai Guo-Qiang over Cognac’s Charente River. The centerpiece of Hennessy X.O’s 150th anniversary World Odyssey program – the event was shared globally via livestream–a first for both Cai Guo-Qiang and the Maison. During this time of global transformation and togetherness, these two friends and creative masterminds express their dual vision for a hopeful future as they respond to and amplify Hennessy Maison’s universal values of joy, optimism, and resilience.
Speaking on the collaboration Frank Gehry said, “It was an honor to be asked to celebrate this milestone for Hennessy X.O. While I was excited, it was also daunting because a bottle of cognac is already a work of art–one you can smell, taste, and feel–it doesn’t need embellishment as it’s already there. We are showing how we can be creative within that language. There’s such a powerful history and a serious emotional commitment from the people that make this product. It has a resonance that’s interesting to tie into and become a part of.”
To learn more and view a film on the 150th Anniversary Masterpiece by Frank Gehry, visit https://www.hennessy.com/en-int/collaborations/hennessy-xo-x-frank-gehry
To view Cai Guo-Qiang’s firework celebration of Hennessy’s ‘A World Odyssey’ and learn more, visit Hennessy.com/en-int/stories/cai-guo-qiang-live-event
A SHIMMERING BEACON OF MASTER CRAFTSMANSHIP
Frank Gehry’s boundless designs (including The Guggenheim Bilbao, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and The Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris to name a few) never stop pushing the theme of movement–the ground bends, walls lean, lines defy gravity, and the impossible is not only imagined but executed with pure emotion and visual poetry.
Frank Gehry has created the Hennessy X.O masterpiece with the same philosophy, passion, and curiosity as he does when designing his architectural masterpieces. Just as he always respects the surrounding environment of his work, Frank Gehry deeply considered the rich customs, composition, and art of distillation of the storied Hennessy X.O Cognac, as well as taking into account the savoir faire heritage of the Hennessy Maison.
AN EVOCATIVE APPROACH
Drawing inspiration from the rich Hennessy X.O blend, and the vital soil, twisting vines, and the glistening Charente River that runs through the Hennessy Maison, Frank Gehry has created a true sensorial masterpiece. The iconic Hennessy X.O bottle is enveloped in a crinkled sleeve of 24 carat gold-dipped bronze, evoking the radiant movement of water as it reflects the light. The sculptural decanter is encased by a fractured glass glorifier, which further amplifies the inspiration of water and light.
“I wanted to bring it to life, and so I took inspiration from its birthplace and used this crumpling effect of the material that gives it a feeling of movement,” Gehry adds. “The materials I’ve chosen catch the light and make this a really beautiful object on its own, but then you realize it is a bottle of Hennessy X.O.”
The thought-provoking and challenging design was executed with the work of artisans who created the second skin of Hennessy X.O. Just like the master blenders, who pass on their expertise, the artisans perpetuate an art form and the gift of secret craftmanship. Each stage that went into bringing Gehry’s idea to life, required care, attention, high standards and patience.
A UNIQUE AND UNPREDICTABLE TOUCH
To further the experience of the decanter, Frank Gehry has created a luminous and beautifully understated fusil made of brass and gold. The device keenly reflects the Hennessy cellar master’s ritual to extract the extra old cognac. Further keeping with the element of surprise and contrast, the decanter, glorifier and fusil are packaged in a protective case that is in itself a design object, imprinted with Frank Gehry’s signature and made of compressed cardboard—an homage to a series of corrugated cardboard furniture Frank Gehry designed in the 1970s.
ABOUT THE 150th ANNIVERSARY OF HENNESSY X.O
In 1870, Maurice Hennessy, a 4th-generation member of the Hennessy family, asked the Cellar Master Emile Fillioux to create a special cognac for his family and friends, using long-aged eaux-de-vie to perfect the blend. They called it “X.O” for “Extra Old”. Hennessy X.O became the first House blend to attain international renown, to the point that the X.O classification became a gauge of uncompromising quality.
In 1947, Gérald de Geoffre – Maurice Hennessy’s great-grandson – created its iconic carafe, a shape inspired by an upturned cluster of grapes. Today, Hennessy X.O remains as true as it was when Maurice Hennessy first shared it with his inner circle. A timeless symbol with a powerful and balanced structure, it carries the promise of an extremely long finish: each drop an invitation to embark on an odyssey of the senses through seven tasting notes.
In 2020, Hennessy X.O celebrates its 150th birthday by honoring its history while looking to the future. To mark the occasion during these unprecedented times of renewal, Hennessy Maison will continue the World Odyssey in a remarkable way, by supporting the global community through charity initiatives. The odyssey continues with a shared vision of community and connection as we move forward together with perseverance and promise.