Design

Architecture and Agave Collide With OAX Original’s Limited Edition Debut

The complex and smoky agave-based Mexican spirit of mezcal is commonly found bottled in glass, resplendent with design elements referencing the agave derived spirit’s rich traditional past. Which makes OAX Original’s newly released trio of matte ceramic mezcal bottles stand out from the increasingly crowded shelves dedicated to the traditional Mexican spirit – an intriguing alternative design inspired by the country’s rich architectural history.

Designers Laura Giraudo and Roberto Bernasconi, co-founders of interdisciplinary design studio Bardo Industries, bestow the newly launched, premium small batch mezcales each with a color coded ceramic bottle capped in cork, each intended to communicate the characteristics of the spirits within: the smokiest – Arroqueño – bottled in black,  the flowery, herbal and lighter Tobalá in white, and the oldest, most complex Tepeztate in pink.

Giraudo and Bernasconi cite Mexico’s vernacular architectural history as inspiration, one spanning from the era of monolithic pre-Hispanic architecture to Euro-American Modernist designs. Bernasconi notes the decision to use ceramic versus glass lends “an unsettling, convulsive and cryptic” element, creating an ‘obscur objet du désir’, a “preamble to the drinking experience.”

“We wanted the bottle to mirror that. At first glance, perplexity, followed by an exploration of angles, textures and juxtapositions,” says Giraudo, “We always knew we wanted a bottle that would be composed of different elements or volumes.”

While the long shadow of Luis Barragán’s “emotional architecture” is obviously referenced, so too are the works of contemporary Mexican architects such as Frida Escobedo, Maurico Rocha and Gabriela Carrillo, among others.

OAX Original uses wild, single-origin foraged agave ranging from 12 to 25-years-old to produce three expressions of mezcales grown, harvested, processed, distilled and bottled in Oaxaca (with bottles manufactured in Pachuca, Mexico). This initial batch of mezcales was crafted by Maestro Mezcalero Enrique Hernandez Zenea whose family has held the mezcal making tradition from San Luis Del Rio, Oaxaca, for over three generations.

“The shadows and lights will play along with their shapes, almost like the perception of a building, that changes with the light throughout the day. These volumes had to have a stark contrast between each other. The circle versus the triangle; the smooth surface vs the textured.”

An early render of the bottle design shows an accentuated texture intended to reference the soil of Oaxaca from which the agave plant grows.

Early design explorations: “We always knew we wanted a bottle that would be composed of different elements or volumes, each combined to work in constant tension with each other, creating different views depending on where one looks at it.”

All three OAX Original mezcales are available in extremely limited numbers, about 900 bottles per varietal total, with each retailing at $110-180 per bottle available at shop.oaxoriginal.com.

All photos: Celeste Martearena

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