Artist Bethan Laura Wood on her collaboration with Perrier-Jouët
March 27, 2019
For art month, French champagne house Perrier-Jouët brought to Hong Kong the best of its cultural heritage with Art of the Wild. Inspired by the maison’s long-standing celebration of nature and art and Art Nuveau, the initiative culminated in the creation of HyperNature, an installation by Bethan Laura Wood that was first unveiled at DesignMiami/.
HyperNature is a pure embodiment or Art of the Wild with its radiant colours and fluid shapes inspire by Wood’s journey to Champagne to visit the Maison Belle Époque, Perrier-Jouët’s family home in Epernay.
The eccentric British artist and designer made a name for herself throughout the past ten years by developing a unique style. Her multidisciplinary practice blends colourful elements, diverse materials, artisanal collaborations and an attention for details that derives from thoughtful research.
Wood’s art also focuses on celebrating everyday objects and making them the very centre of a piece by elevating them to cultural symbols, an approach she has also visibly taken to create HyperNature. A Royal College of Art alumni, she has undertaken various international residencies, from the W Hotel in Mexico City to London’s Design Museum. In addition, Wood has collaborated with international brands like Valextra, Tory Burch and Hermés.
With her dream-esque, out-of-time and flamboyant appearance, Wood has the power to instantly transport you to her artistic universe. We met her in front of her majestic installation at Old Bailey, Tai Kwun, and talked art, Instagram and her collaboration with Perrier-Jouët.
HyperNature looks amazing! Can you tell us a little bit more about the installation and your partnership with Perrier-Jouët?
The installation is an artistic sculpture that I was commissioned by Perrier-Jouët to celebrate both the house and the ritual of drinking champagne. For me, what was really exciting is that the champagne house’s art direction is very focused on colour, which fit me well. It was also impressive to see the wondrous collaboration they have done in the past with various artists and designers. The piece is a mix of inspirations, from the elements of Art Nuveau which is very connected to the Perrier-Jouët house, and small details that I picked up when I went visit their Maison in Champagne.
The body of the tree and all the arms are inspired by Art Noveau and the architecture from that period of time, and the colours are also inspired by tones of the champagne itself. It was really interesting to have the cellar master telling me all the specific things about the taste. I wanted to integrate that detail into the body of the tree, which is made of anodised aluminium all bent and curved to create these forms through hand bending.
Many of the materials implied throughout the sculpture are also representative of the Industrial Revolution, which took place when the Art Nuveau movement was spreading.
How was it to see your work at DesignMiami/?
It was really exciting to get the opportunity to be a part of the collector’s lounge at DesignMiami/ and for me it was a very nice full circle because in 2013 I won the designer of the future award for the Design Miami Buzz so it was really lovely for me to be able to go back and do another project there. You could see the difference within my career from being an emerging designer to now them having an amazing house like Perrier-Jouët for me create and design such a big space. It was really exciting. It was a real pleasure to see the piece, but Miami is a bit too hot for me…
We want to know a bit more about yourself. How would you describe your artistic style?
So, my aesthetic is quite layered. One of the main things you see throughout all my projects is that they are quite heavily layered or about a combination of multiple components that build a whole. The majority of my work is quite strong accent and colour on pattern but not everything I do is fully coloured.
These are key pits that most e people recognise as my work…I hope so because my aim is trying to make work that connects with people emotionally through a memory or certain connections or through colours that have an accent, or a reference to a particular period of time or a movement, or a way of working. I like very much to work in collaboration. For example, HyperNature, for me, it was really important that it had my identity but also had the identity of the house.
You work a lot with artisans. Can you tell us more about this? Does investigating materials play a big role in your artistic vision?
I think it has been something that I have pursued actively and I’ve also been very lucky to get the opportunity to work with a lot of artisans. I have done a few residencies in Italy and partnered with particular artisans. I like very much to find artisans and people with a set skill or vision and to create a language with them and continuously progress that language over time. Sometimes when you put out a strong desire that is what you want to do, then that also feeds back from other people that see that you are doing that and then invite you to go and do a piece with them.
Your works are very colourful and almost psychedelic. What is your relationship with colours? Do you use them to reflect your personality and mood when you create something?
I think that within my personal style and personal identity, then I enjoy very much exploring and playing around with colours. I try so much not to allow my personal obsession with something necessarily be in every project. I try and make sure that there is space. For me, colour, is one of these amazing things that so many people have strong reaction or emotions to. I am really fascinated about how to work with colours and not to be afraid of how much colour I can bring to a project rather than seeing them as something that is only added on after.
Do you use Instagram?
What is it like to be an artist in the age of Instagram? Do you think it benefits you career? Do you use it a lot?
I think different things are good for certain reasons. I enjoy very much Instagram and I use it quite often but I tend not to share all the images. I think at the beginning I did that when I was travelling around Japan and I got comments like “just because you like it, doesn’t mean everybody needs to know about it.” So, why you are following me then?
I enjoy Instagram because it is a way of me putting out a tester of the things that I am interested in, but I don’t put like every picture. Instagram is really interesting. I follow quite a few designers on Instagram, and it is a really nice way to connect. It is through Instagram now, that me and other contemporary designers, people I know, we might not live in the same cities but because of Instagram we end up meeting up, it is a great way of creatively hooking up.
Would you say that you created an artistic persona for yourself?
I think this is a tricky one. For a long time, before I went to the LCA, I really struggled with people, the way I dressed and my personal choice to dress up and with my work; and I would be even more strict and not use colours that I like in my pieces. I was afraid of how to combine the two. I used to have a problem that people would assume that I was a fashion designer because of the way I looked and not a furniture designer.
As I got older, I have become relaxed with the fluidity between my personal identity and my work and the way in which my personal identity and the freedom I have, like dressing up, may allow me to digest a new colour or a new colour combination. Originally, it went the opposite way. Now, it feeds back and forth. I have become more okay with it.
Have you been here [Hong Kong] before?
No, so I am really itching to go out and walk around.
What is your first impression? Do you already find it artistically inspiring?
So far most of my impressions have been about tasting because I have had so much good food. It is already a very good start. It has been very tasty. So, after today and tomorrow, I am going to take some time to walk around the city to just digest. Right now, I can only tell you what I think I might be interested to look into. You build like a local map. In the short time I have, I am hoping to go around and see a few things to get a taste of Hong Kong.