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Philippe Starck to design winery in Bordeaux

February 22, 2013|By S. Irene Virbila
  • Philippe Starck is set to design a new winery for Chteau Les Carmes Haut-Brion in Bordeaux with architect Luc Arsne-Henry.
Philippe Starck is set to design a new winery for Chteau Les Carmes Haut-Brion… (Annie Wells / Los Angeles…)

French uber-designer Philippe Starck has created lamps that look like guns, "ghost" chairs, fly swatters, a futuristic orange juicer, headphones, yachts and just about anything you can think of. Hehas put his stamp on hotels and restaurants such as the Bazaar by José Andrés in Beverly Hills, Katsuya in various locations including Glendale and Los Angeles, and Ma Cocotte, a restaurant at the flea market in Paris. He also has designed a factory and showroom for La Forge de Laguiole, a manufacturer of knives in southwest France. That building may be my favorite of his projects: It has a giant knife blade sticking out of the roof.

And now he's slated to design (with architect Luc Arsène-Henry) a new winery for the wine estate Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion in Bordeaux. Yes, that Bordeaux, the wine region where impressive centuries-old châteaux receive visitors by appointment only and where wine estates are still ranked, with only a few slight changes, according to the official classification of 1855.

Les Carmes Haut-Brion, once part of the Haut-Brion estate holdings, is not part of that grand avenue of châteaux along the Médoc. It is located in Pessac-Léognan, the Bordeaux red and dry white wine appellation south of the city of Bordeaux.

Is it true? I wrote to the estate and got back a reply from director Guillaume Pouthier. I've smoothed out the English a little, but he basically confirmed the information. 

"When Patrice Pichet purchased the estate Les Carmes Haut-Brion in 2010, he intended to make this unique property a true gem set in the city of Bordeaux," Pouthier writes. "The soil is prestigious, but the equipment [winery facility] is not up to its measure. And for the new vintages, it is essential to provide Les Carmes Haut-Brion with a new winemaking facility."

Owner Pichet, he explains, is not only "an amateur [lover] of wines, but also of design and architecture." And for this project, he’s turned to designer Philippe Starck and architect Luc Arsène-Henry to design and construct a new winery and reception area.

Philippe Starck’s office is playing it closer to the vest. When I contacted them, I got back this reply (which is no reply): "Thank you for your mail. For the moment, we don't communicate about it."

According to Decanter magazine, which first reported the collaboration, "work will begin on the Carmes Haut-Brion project in summer 2013, and should be finished by harvest 2014."

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