20th Century Design

A Cutting-Edge Installation Illuminates Hennessy’s ‘Art of Selection’

By Sotheby's

F rom Hennessy’s precious collection of eaux-de-vie, eighth generation master blender Renaud Fillioux de Gironde tastes dozens of samples every day to determine which will be combined to produce the brand’s great cognacs, including Hennessy Paradis Imperial. Very few will be deemed worthy: in an entire harvest, only 10 of 10,000 eaux-de-vie may one day enter this blend. Such expert assessment is the “art of selection,” practiced by the cognac-making Fillioux family for two centuries. To capture the master blender’s ineffable process, in all of its beautiful complexity, Hennessy turned to an innovative London-based artist collective to create an illuminating artwork. 


On Hennessy’s property in France’s Cognac region, inside the Founder’s Cellar where the eaux-de-vie are stored in oak barrels and dame-jeannes, the London-based artist collective Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) has created The Quest, an immersive installation centred around a sculpture that features 10,000 glass-like shards. Inside a glass and metal cage is a robotic arm that moves a light source, creating shifting patterns of light and shadow in the darkened space of the cellar. The arm is also programmed to find 10 unique crystals hidden within the 10,000 pieces of glass to represent the 10 eaux-de-vie from any given vintage that are worthy of becoming part of the Paradis Impérial blend.

Hennessy Paradis Imperial

Like the Master Blender’s quest for the perfect eaux-de-vie, MLF’s The Quest is a perfect synthesis of science and art. “To imbue the robot with characteristics that echo Hennessy’s master-blending process, we had to orchestrate a complex coming together of multiple disciplines,” said Ersin Han Ersin, MLF’s creative director. Ersin added that the MLF team was “able to create a continuous illusion of projections through a jigsaw puzzle of robotic experts, structural engineers, parametric designers, architects, electrical engineers, spatial sound designers and craftsmen for the shards.” 

All of those distinct talents came together to arrive at an extraordinary work of art – not unlike the blending of distinct eaux-de-vie to create Hennessy Paradis Imperial. Permanently installed in the Founder’s Cellar, The Quest reflects the heritage of the master blender’s relentless quest and speaks to what Hennessy is today: a brand committed to a tradition of excellence while constantly evolving toward the future. Click on the video below to explore the installation.


Hennessy has previously collaborated with contemporary artists such as Anton Corbijn, John Maeda and Peter Saville to create new work. The brand also supports the preservation of cultural history as exemplified by the de Vogüé family's ongoing restoration of Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte, the inspiration for Versailles. The fascinating story is explored in Treasures from Vaux-le-Vicomte, Sotheby’s original video series presented by Hennessy Paradis Imperial. Click here to watch the episodes.

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