“Brothers! Come quickly! I am drinking stars!” A French Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon is said to have shouted such a phrase, when he accidentally invented champagne in 17th Century.
Kotaro Watanabe, a director and design engineer at Takram design engineering, participated as a leading member of creative team that produced the invitational dinner event, “Creative Collision,” hosted by Dom Pérignon. His role included the creative direction of the event. In a collaborative effort among all members, including Moët Hennessy Diageo, Amano Creative Studio Inc., and A4A.inc. as well as Takram, he led the team through proposal and fabrication of the event’s unifying story, philosophy and UX – that is to say, the sequencing, spatial and lighting planning, and ambient music – as well as the planning and operation phases of the event itself.
In addition, Hisato Ogata, another director and design engineer at Takram, designed and created interactive contents for Dom Pérignon, using his proprietary On the Fly system. It was deployed as the key content medium for the event, which engendered a dreamy and ephemeral one-night event for the guests.
The Formation of a Creative Team
Every year, Dom Pérignon sponsors a series of activities in collaboration with avant-garde artists. For this, Koons created ”Balloon Venus for Dom Pérignon,” which is a sculptural art-piece also functioning as a bottle container.
From the beginning, MHD planned to host a dinner event in Tokyo for 50 guests to announce Jeff Koons’ Balloon Venus and its 2003 vintage Rosé. In order to plan the event, fine-tune the contents, and manage its execution, a collaborative creative team was formed by Amano Creative Studio, A4A, and Takram design engineering.
ACS was in charge of the overall production, guest coordination, and operation; A4A directed the spatial design, construction and project management; and, Takram design engineering did the total creative direction, as well as the production and exhibition of On the Fly system contents. On the Fly was recalibrated in terms of system and design especially for this event, such as to display the welcome message for the guests, interaction with bubbles akin to its champagne, and introduction of the creative process behind the collaboration between Dom Pérignon and Jeff Koons.
STORYWEAVING: Event’s Philosophy and the Narrative of “Collision”
Takram joined the creative team during the project's inception phase, before the sequencing and spatial configuration of the event was finalized. Through discussions with MHD and the creative team, we deployed “storyweaving” to build up the overall concept and philosophy. Takram paid special attention to one of Dom Pérignon’s keyphrases that constitutes its brand DNA, “Creative Collision.” We proposed to use this keyphrase as the consistent ideology throughout the overall experience in this event. The word “collision” embodies the new potential that is wrought when two elements are impacted together.
The concept of “collision” has many manifestations. There are collisions among the guests, via prominent figures of various fields coming together and enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime event. There are collisions between champagne glasses exchanged at moments of encounter; the collisions among the champagne bubbles. Then, there is a collision of the historical and the future, as in the long history and tradition of Dom Pérignon, and creative collaborations with avant-garde artists. The list goes on.
COLLISION: The Science behind Champagne Bubbles
According to “Uncorked:The Science of Champagne,” by Gerard Liger-Belair, a bubble borne from the bottom of champagne glass grows by absorbing surplus bubbles throughout 10cm rise in the liquid. By the time a bubble reaches the surface, its volume has multiplied by a million. It was elucidated in the 2009 research article published by American National Academy of Sciences that though a champagne bubble is composed mainly of carbon dioxides, there are as much as 30 varieties of chemical compounds that make champagne aromatic.
Collision: The Science behind Champagne Bubbles
A champagne bubble gradually grows with each collision and produces its characteristic rich fragrance. These bubbles are engendered within a bottle, a crystal of creativity. Furthermore, these collisions create a tastefully robust champagne. The exponential growth of a bubble with each collision throughout its upward journey, is akin to exponentially increasing opportunities promised by “encounters” when persons collide. This concept was reflected not only in event’s abstract aspects, but also in the detailing phases, such as its spatial design, event sequencing, seating and guidance system.
SPATIAL DESIGN: Inside the Venus Sculpture
The motif for spatial design came from the Balloon Venus. A mysterious and multi-layered space was designed as if inside the sculpture to realize a configuration that would effectively emphasise the voluptuous female form and embrace it. Through myriads of encounters and creative collisions by people in this space, the narrative constructed endeavors for a kind of renaissance, a cultural rendition of rebirth.
Several layers of organza – thin fabric with glossy, translucent materiality – hang from the ceiling. By placing many of these in layers, an undulating spatial configuration is achieved. Though, at first, the Omotesando Space O event space was thought to be too large for 50 people, due to its ceiling height and expanse, the undulations provided the space with transient comfortability.
This voluptuous space, which looks capable of enfolding something, is saturated with the symbolic meaning of cocoon. Aside from the feeling of being “inside the sculpture” that the guests would experience, it is possible to interpret the experience as akin to being inside a wine barrel or champagne bottle. The foreseeable encounters within the circles are like collisions of bubbles within a bottle. Our spatial design allows the narrative of champagne’s assemblage, maturation and in-bottle fermentation to be experienced vicariously by guests in forms of “progress and growth.” Positioned centrally in the space is the Balloon Venus lit particularly sensually. The flora and plant design by Nicolai Bergmann decorate tabletops as well as the podium base for the Venus.
ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXPERIENCE: Entertainment by On the Fly, and the Space of Rouge
The invited guests began arriving around 7pm at Space O, the event venue in the basement of Omotesando Hills. They first enjoyed Dom Pérignon as an aperitif in the bar area, and proceeded through a tunnel entering into the dinner room. In one hand, every guest carried an invitation card in the shape of Dom Pérignon shield. The invitation cards, which were sent prior to the event, actually differed slightly from one another.
Once the guests arrived to the dining room, they were greeted by the On the Fly table. As soon as the invitation card was placed on this table, a projection of fizzling bubbles emerged. Simultaneously, a welcome message and respective guest’s name were displayed. Moreover, an animation indicating where the guest was assigned to be seated appeared. This was a sequence of magical experiences that originated from what appeared to be an ordinary paper card. All the guests were not able to contain their surprise and wonderment as they headed for their seats. As they looked above, the multilayered curtain had now turned green.
After everyone was seated, the hostess of the event, Katie Jacobs of MHD, commenced the dinner with her opening speech. The full course menu was created by Chef Takazawa of Aronia de Takazawa, located in Hiroo. Visually and gastronomically stimulating and wondrous dishes were served to the guests. Before the main course was served, Katie spoke more about the Balloon Venus thoroughly, emphasizing it as an object capable of functioning as a sculpture and a Dom Pérignon bottle-case.
At that pinnacle moment exactly halfway through the dinner, spotlights gathered on the Venus. Gaku, the host now with white gloves on hands, proceeded with the ceremony to open the Venus amidst dramatic music. Synchronously, the entire space turned into light pink. It was as if the color was reflecting the heightening mood of the space and emergent blush from guests’ excited countenance. What was before a verdant space transformed pink from that moment on. Even the champagne was switched from 2004 Blanc to 2003 Rosé.
The guests were asked to stand and observe the Venus more closely. At the "On the Fly" system, there was now a booklet. Once the booklet was opened, introductions on Jeff Koons, the Venus, and Dom Pérignon’s vintage emerged together with beautiful photographs. This tool allowed for real, tactile and physical interaction and conveyance of historical and philosophical materials. It was evident that the guests were drawn to the content, but moreover with the interactive nature of the system. Even after the main course, desserts and coffee were served and time came to end the soiree, people stayed to enjoy the lingering memory of the night.
LOOKING BACK AT THE NIGHT: Touching Communication and Experience
Though it as an event for one-night only, the invested passion, attention to detail, and philosophy were exceptionally high. It was a manifestation of creative core value of Dom Pérignon that cherishes vintage. No doubt, a resultant collision between the energy of creative team and the guests synthesized once-in-a-lifetime temporality and spatiality of “the rouge” event space. This event been the most acclaimed out of the many events hosted by MHD. We, Takram, will continue to deploy design engineering and storyweaving methods to create modes of communication and experiences that will touch people’s hearts.
Creative Direction & Technical Direction: Takram
Production & Operation: Amano Creative Studio
Space Design & Management: A4A