Art. Community. Reuse.
Frequently bandied about in various combinations, these values, conjoined in a meaningful relationship, are resonantly embodied in “Barrique: Wine, Design & Social Change,” at the Museum of Design Atlanta through October 15.
The exhibition features objects made out of decommissioned wine barrels, conceived by an international group of 35 architects and designers and crafted in the wood shop at San Patrignano, a treatment center in Italy for young addicts. The works will be auctioned off to benefit the center.
To judge from the photographic blow-ups and the three-channel video of San Patrignano, which are interwoven through the galleries, it is a special place. During their stay at this idyllic rural compound, the youth not only work on conquering their addictions but also have the opportunity to attend school and learn professional skills, including viticulture, wine-making and various crafts, at some 50 “labs.”
The project on view at MODA was born out of a desire to recycle the winery’s oaken barrels, which can be used for only three years. The designers in the exhibition, including such notables as Karim Rashid, Angela Missoni and Daniel Libeskind, clearly warmed to the task. As evident in the chairs, stools, tables, benches, screens and light fixtures on view, they took advantage of the graceful curve of the staves, the lids (seat “cushions”) and even the purply wine stains.
They collaborated with the San Patrignano residents who worked the wood shop. Mike McKeaige, a 26-year-old American who traveled with the show to help set it up, was among those who worked with Libeskind on an elegant, asymmetrical bench (by madison ). More specifically, he says, “We advised him. The bench was really unstable. We worked one on one suggesting ways to improve it. It was pretty fulfilling.”
Working with an international design star — and improving his work — was only “pretty fulfilling”? Well, compared to the totality of McKeaige’s experience at San Patrignano (including learning Italian after he arrived), yes.
“From my perspective, getting clean, getting my life on track, are the biggest things,” says McKeaige, who hopes to become a social worker and is thinking of settling in Atlanta when he is through. “I want a new life.”
Click here to view more photos.