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Wine and Design: Penfolds and Toogood

The iconic Australian winemaker and contemporary designer extraordinaire have teamed up for one of the year’s most exciting collaborations, The Blocks.

Wine and Design:  Penfolds and Toogood


January 27th, 2012

Faye Toogood (above) of London-based Studio Toogood has made a name for herself through her immersive and multi-faceted interiors and environments.


The Hatch, 2009

Corn Craft, her creation for the 2009 London Design Festival, was inspired by corn as a sustainable and natural material. One-off pieces by famous contemporary designers, housed in a custom-designed exhibition space, were accompanied by exclusive dining events with a corn-based menu.


Corn Craft, 2009

At the 2011 Milan Furniture Fair, Toogood and her team took over a private Milanese apartment and played host to a series of midnight dinners. Entitled Natura Morta, the all-black installation looked at the darker side of the natural world and acted as a showcase for Toogood’s second furniture collection.


Natura Morta, 2011

Among the many to experience and be impressed by the installation were winemakers Penfolds, who approached Toogood to work with them on a project celebrating the essence and experience of wine.

“Penfolds particularly reacted to the multisensory nature of what I was doing,” Toogood says of the collaboration.

“Wine is synonymous with poetry, passion and love; it is not merely a drink associated with celebration and hedonism, but one that is rich and history, and we wanted to capture that.”


The Blocks – concept drawing

The result of the collaboration is The Blocks, Toogood’s first installation outside Europe. Taking place in Sydney from 16 March at Pier 2/3 in Walsh Bay and in Melbourne from 4 May at an as yet undisclosed location, The Blocks is a journey for all the senses.

On entering the mysterious space, guests are greeted by The Noses – trained sommeliers who take them through 5 wooden totems, The Oaks. Each totem represents a different grape variety and, through taste and smell, guides guests to their preferred wine according to their palate.


The Blocks – concept drawing

The sensory journey continues. “Not content with stimulating the nose,” Toogood explains, “we are asking guests to drink with their eyes.” Interpretive artwork from emerging Australian artists and designers add to the visual effect of the installation.

The experience culminates in a wine and food tasting under canopies of illuminated glass grapes.

The important – and challenging – aspect of the installation was “discovering ways of demystifying vinification without dumbing it down,” Toogood explains.

“By eradicating some of the industry snobbery around wine and finding different ways of awakening our palates using sight, touch, smell and taste, I hope to make it easier for people to awaken their palate and discover which wines to drink.”

More on Faye Toogood will appear in an upcoming issue of Design Quarterly magazine. Thanks to Alice Blackwood for the interview!

The Blocks

Studio Toogood

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