It is quite an honour when you are asked to design boxes for Ruinart, the oldest
champagne house in the world (established in 1729). They were the first
to use the stone quarries deep under the ground in Reims to age their wines, the
first to re-establish the use of the old bulbous bottle shape, and the first at the
end of the eighteenth century to package bottles in wooden boxes. This spherical
bottle was originally necessary because the regular bottles were unable
to withstand the pressure of the bubbles. Once regular bottles could be used,
all of the champagne houses took advantage of this revolutionary possibility.
With this historical understanding in mind, I accepted the commission to design new
wooden boxes. Incidentally, this project is in perfect keeping with Ruinart’s tradition
of working with artists. The first such collaboration took place in 1895. Since this
concerned huge quantities, I hoped that we would not have to make them all ourselves.
But it quickly became apparent that the boxes did indeed have to be made
from scrap wood and perfectly finished, so we would clearly be delivering a 100%
in-house produced product. I could write an instructive book about the making of
these boxes and the tremendous efforts and problems encountered along the way.