Art design

Olafur Eliasson Unveils Prismatic Tasting Pavilion at Donum Estate in Sonoma

How do we do really taste wine? At Domain Donum vineyard in Sonoma, California, owners Mei and Allan Warburg and artist-architect duo Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann say the answer lies not just in the glass you hold in your hand, but also in the glass that shines above your head

“When you take beautiful art and put it in a beautiful landscape and enjoy good wine together, it’s a much bigger experience than if you enjoy each of them on their own,” Allan said. Warburg at the August 1 unveiling of Eliasson and Behmann Vertical Panorama Pavilion (2022), commissioned for the estate. “I bet our wine, if you taste it here, will taste better than if you taste it elsewhere.”

The opening of Vertical Panorama Pavilion, three years in the making, marked a reunion for Warburg, Eliasson and Behmann. Mei, a Chinese native, and Allan, a Danish national, split their time between Beijing and Hong Kong, and due to Covid-19 restrictions have not returned to Donum since 2019, when Doug Aitken’s Sonic Mountain (Sonoma) (2019), a melodic installation of 365 wind chimes, debuted. Also unable to travel to Donum since 2019, Berlin-based Eliasson and Behmann relied on Zoom calls and virtual reality technology to develop their project.

Vertical Panorama Pavilion at the Donum Estate, 2022, by Studio Other Spaces (Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann) Photo: Adam Potts

“Art and architecture can dance or fight together in so many ways. Working with Sebastian made me a better artist and him a better architect,” Eliasson said. The arts journal. “It’s like that old saying ‘one and one is 11’. Sebastian and I are 11 when we work together.

The duo, whose collaborative design practice is called Studio Other Spaces, carefully considered Donum’s emphasis on organic and sustainable production, as well as its specific terrain and weather settings to translate the winemaking process into an experience. physical. The pavilion is accessed by winding paths lined with white glazed bricks on one side, which gradually grow into the walled foundation of the site. Inspired by the history of circular calendars, the pavilion roof comprises 832 laminated panels of recycled glass and is supported by 12 stainless steel columns. From afar, only the translucent rainbow glass mosaic canopy is visible. Upon entering the pavilion, visitors find themselves at eye level with the surrounding roots and greenery due to the structure’s dirt floor.

Built to accommodate up to 12 people, the pavilion is both imposing and intimate. Its custom cushioned “potato-like” seats provide flexible perches for sipping pinot noir and chardonnay, even on a scorching day. The wind, another fundamental contributor to the winemaking process, passes through the pavilion, whose oculus frames the equally important sun and sky. It was paramount to Eliasson and Behmann that the pavilion avoid over-commercialization and any trace of marketing – no text, plaques or helmets are to be found.

Vertical Panorama Pavilion at the Donum Estate, 2022, by Studio Other Spaces (Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann) Photo: Adam Potts

“Don’t hesitate to be brave and disarm yourself,” Eliasson says of the experience of visiting Donum Estate and the pavilion. “I think it’s a tasting experience – just the kind of very humble nature to have an experience in the mouth that’s amplified by context.” Vertical Panorama Pavilion is ideally located to highlight this context: the 360-degree view from its elevated position allows visitors to admire works by Jaume Plensa, Zhan Wang, Subodh Gupta and Keith Haring, among others.

Founded in 2001, Donum Estate, Sonoma’s single-vineyard, single-appellation Pinot Noir and Chardonnay leader, was acquired by the Warburgs in 2010. They have spent the past 12 years transforming it into a major sculpture park, including works by Lynda Benglis, Anselm Kiefer, Louise Bourgeois, Ugo Rondinone, Ghada Amer and Ai Weiwei, including Circle of Animals / Heads of the Zodiac (2010) also serves as imagery on Donum wine labels.

“There was never a master plan. The field naturally continues to evolve”, says Allan Warburg. The arts journal. “My wife and I strive to have a relationship with the artist so that we can really be part of the process and create something.”

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