Chosen tipple of the rich and famous, as part of Milan Design Week Belvedere Vodka recently created a unique garden, curated in collaboration with world-famous florist, Thierry Boutemy, elsewhere known for his flawless arrangements in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette – we were obsessed!
Certain to get your Instagram poppin’, the gorgeous space offered up both a picturesque aesthetic and a selection of dreamy cocktails and light-bites, perfect for an afternoon lounging in the Italian sun. London Fields this was most certainly not!
It’s only fitting that the brand teamed up with the ever-opulent and prestigious Milan Design Week, given that the vodka is at the forefront of the stiff-drink industry, having previously been branded as “The World’s Most First Super Premium Vodka’. Through collaborations with the likes of Boutemy, Belvedere continue to expand on the ‘luxury’ tag that is already so synonymous with the brand.
Keen to learn more about the Belvedere’s latest creative venture, we grabbed a moment with Belvedere’s president, Charles Gibb and his latest collaborator, floral designer Thierry Boutemy.
Charles Gibb, President of Belvedere
What is the meaning of Natural for Belvedere?
We believe in using 100% all natural ingredients. Belvedere Vodka is made from Polish Dankowskie rye and artesian water from our own pristine source, and nothing else. When it comes to cocktails, we recommend using only the finest natural ingredients – no additives or high-sugar mixers. Belvedere is distilled from ingredients you recognise and flavoured with ingredients you can pull from a tree or a bush – and that philosophy is applied to how we approach cocktails.
And how does Belvedere go about conveying this?
Outside of our commitment to keeping our vodka free of additives, our philosophy is best demonstrated through our Belvedere Spritz collection, which uses only a naturally flavoured modifier, the finest sparkling and tonic water and fresh herbs or fruits for garnish. The Belvedere Spritz is a deliciously refreshing drink full of real citrus flavor – without excess sugar – and is simple to create.
So why has Belvedere chosen to partner with Thierry?
Both Belvedere and Thierry share a profound love for and respect for nature in all its wonder and significance. The raw, natural, minimalist approach is shared by both Belvedere and Thierry.
“Both Belvedere and Thierry share a profound love for and respect for nature in all its wonder and significance. The raw, natural, minimalist approach is shared by both Belvedere and Thierry.”
“Why did Belvedere choose Milan Design Week to launch the installation?
Milan Design Week has evolved from a furniture fair to a place where brands are debuting some of their most coveted work and connecting on a deeper level with their consumers. The fair is an opportunity to engage design-savvy, sophisticated and audacious audiences who are looking to learn, experiment and engage in experiences.
How does the Belvedere Garden portray the idea of Naturalness?
Thierry Boutemy’s breathtaking installation at Palazzo Borromeo D’adda transforms rye and the Spritz cocktail garnishes – rye, thyme, rosemary, cucumber, grapefruit and lemon – showcasing Belvedere’s natural approach to vodka and cocktails.
Tell us more about the Belvedere Garden and Thierry’s inspiration in creating the installation.
By partnering with Thierry, Belvedere Vodka hopes to encourage an appreciation of natural ingredients and expert craftsmanship. Like Belvedere, Thierry’s creations focus on the raw naturalness of things. Through the Belvedere Garden, we are trying to tell an authentic story and evoke emotions that are rooted in minimalism, while subtly educating people that we are a rye vodka.
And what’s next for the installation, post-Milan Design Week?
Following Design Week, the installation will travel through Europe throughout spring for display at other Belvedere events to continue conveying the ‘Naturalness’ message, and ultimately find its home at the Belvedere distillery in Poland by the summer.”
Thierry Boutemy, Floral Designer
What inspired you to create the installation at the Belvedere Garden at Milan Design Week?
I was inspired by Belvedere Vodka’s natural ingredients and expert craftsmanship. Like Belvedere, my creations focus on the raw naturalness of things. I try to tell authentic stories and make beautiful poetry with my work and evoke emotions that are rooted in minimalism. Often you only need a few ingredients to create poetry, much like Belvedere Vodka. It’s a pure spirit that doesn’t need additives to taste better or have character – it is exceptional in its simplicity. The installation is a nod to that philosophy.
How did the partnership with Belvedere develop?
I share a profound love and respect for nature in all its wonder and significance. When the brand approached me to be part of this special project, the decision was an easy one because there is an organic philosophical synergy.
What inspired the elements of this design?
I strive to bring a natural spontaneity to structural projects. For this design, I focused on the raw materials that make up Belvedere’s liquid. Using rye, thyme, rosemary, cucumber, grapefruit and lemon – all elements that highlight Belvedere’s natural approach to vodka and cocktails, I could bring a distinctly natural look to life.
How long will it take you to create the build out?
Tell us more about the arch shape of the installation
With the arches, inspired by the iconic design on the Belvedere bottle, I envision people walking under them and entering another world, a protective universe, where all worries are left behind and people become one with nature. The idea is for people to feel welcomed into this enchanted garden while overtaken by sensations of beauty, freshness and happiness.
What does natural mean to you?
To me, natural is the purest, simplest form of something. Natural is uncomplicated, authentic and genuine. The simple and beautifully mystifying wonders of the world.
“To me, natural is the purest, simplest form of something. Natural is uncomplicated, authentic and genuine. The simple and beautifully mystifying wonders of the world.”
Which of these natural ingredients do you prefer in your Belvedere cocktail?
When it comes to cocktails, I admire Belvedere’s minimalist approach and its commitment to all natural ingredients. The Belvedere Spritz is definitely my favorite drink: it’s deliciously refreshing and full of real grapefruit flavor with a delicate touch of thyme. It’s very simple to create, perfect for an aperitif and also low in sugar.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on a few weddings and private parties all over the world. I like to work closely with people and feel connected to what they want and like to find inspiration and create the best possible compositions for them.
You have worked on many high-profile projects; do you have a favorite?
I have many favorites as I am constantly inspired by the talented people and minds I work with. The springboard to my career was my collaboration with Sofia Coppola in the 2006 film, Marie Antoinette. Sofia is someone very important to me. Our collaboration developed in a natural, organic way. After working on Marie Antoinette, I went on to do her wedding. In fact, she invited me to attend the ceremony, which almost never happens. I was very touched. There was a natural understanding between us; we spoke little but were on the same wavelength throughout the process. Another extraordinary collaboration was working with Mario Testino for the Lady Gaga cover of American Vogue in March 2012. Mario is extraordinary. He has a real sensitivity. For the Lady Gaga shoot in Vogue, he let me do whatever I wanted. I had all the material I had preselected, but came up with the design on the spot – which is how I prefer to work. Nothing premeditated. I chose something leafy and ephemeral, very wild. It looked extremely simple, although it wasn’t. Other favorites include working with renowned Belgian interior designer Axel Vervoordt and international art director and set designer Simon Costin.
What inspired you to become a floral design?
Floral design came to me through the nature of my bucolic childhood. I grew up in the middle of fields, appreciating the simplicity of flowers, their happiness and their pure movement. My rural upbringing is where I learned the ingenuity and spontaneous creativity that continues to color my production.
Outside of your home in Belgium, where do you travel to seek inspiration?
Through my travels, I am able to immerse myself in nature wherever I go. Some of my favorite places that inspire me include Forêt-Noire (Black Forest), the mountainous region in southwest Germany and Hautes Fagnes (High Fens), the largest nature reserve in Belgium. Being surrounded by natural sounds, fresh greenery and flora give me peace and quiet and encourage me to produce beautiful arrangements that evoke the feelings of solace I find in these surroundings.