Lorenz Bäumer’s creation for Hennessy celebrates the NBA’s 75th anniversary

Lorenz Bäumer’s latest creation was a challenge both in its conception and in its execution. The celebrated French fine jewelry artist has teamed up with luxury cognac brand Hennessy and historic crystal maker Baccarat to design a decanter for the 75e anniversary of the National Basketball Association (NBA), America’s premier basketball league.

He created the Paradis x NBA decanter by Lorenz Bäumer. The 1.75 liter spherical crystal carafe, blown and handcrafted in the Baccarat workshop, looks like an authentic basketball. Its faceted surface pattern amplifies the coppery reflections of the cognac within. Limited to 75 pieces, the decanters are now available for purchase.

The decanter is part of Hennessy’s “Rare Editions” collection. It contains the brand’s rare and exclusive Paradis cognac blend. Hennessy, in a statement, claims it is “one of the most original and technically challenging decanters ever made” for the cognac brand.

Bäumer says he envisioned a dynamic, sculptural decanter that would merge the excitement of basketball with the poetry of Paradis and the fire of a diamond.

Like a gemstone, each crystal globe is faceted by hand to allow the surface as well as the cognac within to reflect and refract light. The craftsmanship ensures that each of the 75 carafes is unique. For the finish, the “threads” of the basketball are gilded by hand, and its opening provided with a “golden” key.

The Paradis x NBA carafe comes in a cubic case made of orange leather also designed by Bäumer. The design is embellished with gold markings tracing the lines of the sneaker. When opened, it doubles as a trophy case, bearing a gold-finished signed and numbered plaque. Custom-designed ritual elements include two balloon glasses, an arched “gun” (a pipette used to draw Paradise spirits) and a special golden key that opens both the carafe and its case.

Bäumer’s connection to Hennessy runs quite deep. The jeweler, with his business in the historic Place Vendôme in Paris, was once creative director of fine jewelry at Louis Vuitton. Both Hennessy and Louis Vuitton are owned by French luxury holding company LVMH.

Below is an interview with Bäumer where he discusses the design of carafes.

Anthony DeMarco: How did you get involved in the project?

Lorenz Baumer: I like to help shed light on the rich history of special brands and help them express something new about themselves. Hennessy saw my designs for Guerlain, Louis Vuitton and Chanel and wanted something so unique and special for Hennessy.

AD: Why did you choose to get involved in the project?

KG: I’ve always been a huge Hennessy and basketball fan, so it just felt natural to be part of such a special project. Hennessy, Baccarat and I share the same values: beauty, excellence and authenticity. We turn nature’s gifts into something special with our skill and time.

AD: Was a sphere always going to be the design? It seems obvious, but were there other options?

KG: The sphere is a symbol of perfection and the color of Paradis somehow matches that of a basketball. The iconic ball shape is a sculptural and dynamic design that reflects the excitement of the sport.

AD: Did you know that you would work with Baccarat?

KG: Baccarat is the master of crystal cutters, and I like the way they highlight shapes through the play of light. It’s like when I carve stones. Baccarat and I have been working closely together for 30 years on various projects.

AD: What were the challenges in creating this piece?

KG: There were many technical challenges to create this sculpture of light. A neckless bottle that opens with a key, a large mass of crystal to be blown and cut by hand, the making of a box that opens with the same key, glasses in the shape of a basketball, to to name just a few.

AD: What have you done before with Baccarat?

KG: Two perfume bottles for Guerlain, a jewelry line entitled “star of my heart,” and some clipboards.

AD: What was it like working with Hennessy?

KG: Hennessy has helped me a lot to make my wildest dreams come true. It was really special to be able to work with such a dedicated and inspiring team.

AD: How long did it take to design?

KG: It takes 600 years of know-how to carry out such a project: 250 years of Hennessy, 250 years of Baccarat, 75 years of NBA and 30 years of Lorenz Bäumer.

AD: How long does it take to make a sphere?

KG: A globe takes hundreds of hours of expert craftsmanship to produce. Many skills are needed, starting with the expertise of Renaud Filloux de Gironde as master blender of Hennessy cognac. Then there’s the crystal blowing and cutting, the making of the wood for the boxes, the specially dyed leather – so many hours.

AD: Does it sparkle, sparkle and sparkle like a diamond? Was that one of the goals?

KG: I have used all the knowledge I have acquired over the past 30 years to maximize the play of light in crystal. Each decanter is individually cut with different facets each time.

AD: How does the design of the carafe complement the Paradis cognac inside?

KG: Hennessy Paradis is a sensual and elegant cognac that delights on many levels. On the surface, its harmony and roundness are accessible to neophytes with an aromatic complexity expected by true connoisseurs. The carafe reinforces these qualities.

AD: What was the inspiration for the packaging? Who did you partner with to create it?

KG: The box is like a jewelry container but more than anything, it is inspired by the world of basketball. The wood on the ground, the golden markings which represent a basketball, and a ball or a basketball court. Again, we have worked with many skilled artisans.

AD: Were there any unusual complexities?

KG: It was difficult to find a way to use the key to open the box and carafe at the same time, which makes it simple and efficient.

AD: Are you satisfied with the final product?

KG: I am very proud of this collaboration and I installed one in our salons at 19 place Vendôme which I use at very special times.

AD: Are you a basketball fan?

KG: I am a huge basketball fan and have had the pleasure of attending many games. One of my favorite memories is going to a San Francisco Warriors game and sitting in the front row.

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