X MUSE temple drinking experience designed by formafantasma
Research-based design studio Formafantasma has collaborated with new high-end vodka Brand X MUSE to create the company’s physical flagship at Jupiter Artland, the renowned sculpture park located just outside Edinburgh. Dubbed X MUSE Temple, the structure takes shape as a reflective dome with a meticulously designed interior made out of bespoke handcrafted objects and locally-sourced materials. The project carefully emphasizes the origin and quality of each element in order to create an immersive experience that captures the essence of X MUSE: the first blended barley vodka inspired by Scottish spirit-making.
designboom spoke with Formafantasma founders, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, to find out more about this exclusive collaboration as well as details about the X MUSE Temple design. ‘We wanted to reflect the vodka’s strong Scottish roots by selecting authentic materials that could be found in and around Scotland,’ the two Italian designers tell designboom. Read the interview in full below.
all images courtesy of X MUSE
Hand-crafted elements, local materials and symbolic engravings
Focusing on their deep-rooted passion for sustainability and thoughtful design, Formafantasma created a bespoke experience for X MUSE. More specifically, the Milanese studio designed a glass solar dome that invites Jupiter Artland’s surrounding nature into the Temple, generating an immersive experience that wakes all the senses.
Inside the dome, the X MUSE Helicon tasting workshop features handcrafted items made from UK-sourced materials that illustrate the alchemy of the vodka and are infused with cultural allusions. Powderall Bronze, an Edinburgh-based sculpture and metal work company, created bronze vases and glorifiers that have each been hand-patinated and hand-engraved with the brand’s graphics. The central tasting table was handcrafted locally from solid Scottish granite and blackened oak. The oak dining chairs which were also designed by Formafantasma, are finished with Bouclé Ivory textiles. With cues taken from the most prestigious luxury destinations, the glassware was designed by Lobmeyr, the 200-year Austrian fine crystal designers.
Designed by the all-female graphic design studio A Practice for Everyday Life, the brand illustrations engraved onto the dome bring symbolic life to X MUSE’s ethos. The meaning of these alchemical symbols is linked to the essence of the X MUSE distillation process, which is a coming together of the sun or fire, the moon or water, the earth, and air.
Interview with Formafantasma
designboom (DB): How did your collaboration with X MUSE begin and what was it like designing a brand residence?
Formafantasma (FF): Our design practice has always been rooted in researching themes that transcend history and focus on today and the future. That is why the collaboration was a natural fit for our studio, as X MUSE’s brand ethos is about the blending of cultural history with an edgy approach to alchemy and contemporary art.
Because of the deep intricacies the X MUSE brand is built on, and the fact that the Temple would be permanently based at Jupiter Artland, X MUSE’s spiritual home, we saw the Temple as a space to bring all of the artistic references to life under one roof.
X MUSE’s rich field of inspiration made it easy for us to design the structure itself and curate the brand experience through a unique palette of materials, textures, and tones, yet in a minimalist way that is layered with meaning, similar to the X MUSE bottle and graphic identity.
DB: What elements is the X MUSE Temple composed of?
F: We responded to the brief and to the minimalist feeling of the brand in our own way, by choosing materials and elements that are pure and would reflect the nature of X MUSE.
The exterior of the X MUSE Temple is a geodesic dome made from triangular glass panels etched with the brand’s illustrations, alchemical symbols that were originally used in hermetic texts as a form of notation. The Monas Hieroglyphica is an esoteric symbol created by John Dee in the 16th century, and its meaning is to the essence of the X MUSE distillation process – a linked coming together of the sun or fire, the moon or water, the earth and air.
Within the dome itself, interior walls and divider panels are made from natural materials such as oak and bouclé. X MUSE symbols are also embroidered on the wool of four of eight panels.
Objects for the X MUSE Helicon tasting workshop are handcrafted using materials sourced in the UK, to bring to life the alchemy intrinsic to the vodka and steeped in artistic references.
We designed three bronze containers to display the two types of barley and the amethyst crystals. The barley vessels are slightly smaller in diameter and have a gentle curve on the inside to host the grains. They were all made by Powderall Bronze, an Edinburgh-based sculpture and metal work studio and have each been hand-patinated and hand-engraved with the X MUSE brand illustrations.
The elegant central tasting table is made from blackened oak and solid Scottish granite and crafted locally. The oak dining chairs are finished with the same Bouclé Ivory textiles as the interior panels.
With cues taken from the most prestigious luxury destinations, the glassware was designed by Formafantasma and hand crafted by Lobmeyr, the 200-year Austrian fine crystal manufacturer.
DB: How does the Temple’s design reflect the vodka’s strong Scottish roots?
FF: We wanted to reflect the vodka’s strong Scottish roots by selecting authentic materials that could be found in and around Scotland, including, wool, wood, granite, and glass throughout the X MUSE Temple and tasting experience objects.
DB: In what ways did the site, Jupiter Artland, influence the project’s development?
FF: X MUSE is a brand quite literally born from the ground of Jupiter Artland, so the site played a tremendous role in influencing the design of the Temple and the tasting objects.
Charles Jencks Cells of Life, the landscape sculpture that sits above the ancient aquifer at Jupiter Artland is where water for making X MUSE vodka is drawn from. Anya Gallaccio’s The Light Pours Out of Me is a subterranean grotto lined with dazzling purple amethysts that inspired the processing of the water to increase its energy, and finally, the X Muse statue by Scottish poet, artist and gardener Ian Hamilton Finlay inspired the brand’s name . All these artworks are integral to the DNA of X MUSE and are incorporated as artistic references throughout the Temple and object design.
DB: What is the purpose of this space, and what do you hope visitors will take away from it?
FF: The temple houses an intimate tasting experience for up to 15 people but is unlike any other brand experience we have seen. Robert Wilson and Vadim Grigoryan, the founders of X MUSE, have imbued art and innovation throughout the whole experience, from the physical space to the vodka itself and even down to the drink stirrer.
Our hope is that as guests enter the X MUSE Temple, they first feel the restorative effects of the natural materials and views of the sky, then as they immerse themselves in the vodka tasting workshop, feel the artistic inspirations of X MUSE come to life.