Still Amazing: High Design at a German Gin Distillery
Alexander Stein has been producing his Monkey 47 gin in Germany’s Black Forest since 2008, inspired by local micro-distilling traditions. ‘It’s a custom that goes back to the Habsburg Dynasty,’ he says. ‘Most farms here have the right to distill limited amounts of alcohol, so there are about 30,000 micro-distilleries in the area, producing very small quantities of eau de vie from local fruits.’ He enlisted architect Philipp Mainzer, co-founder of furniture brand E15, who had also worked on the Stählemühle distillery, and together they renovated the 1,400 square meter property.
The centerpiece of the complex is the gigantic copper still, created especially for Monkey 47 by Stein and Keller with German coppersmith and pot-still expert Arnold Holstein. Its surroundings were designed by Mainzer, like a cathedral for the machine, with large, steel-framed windows looking out into the Black Forest. ‘I think you need the architecture and the design to tell a story for the brand,’ says Mainzer.
He immersed himself in the gin production process as well as the local architecture for the project. ‘We wanted an industrial production, but we also wanted it to look authentic,’ he notes. ‘Using local crafts, materials and finishes means very special products and processes, and it’s a great challenge to find them and put them together – and make it all work industrially but also provide a backdrop for the brand.’
Adds Stein, ‘The local farmers were intrigued by the distillery, and said it looks like pictures from 200 years ago. Probably that is the biggest compliment you can get around here.’
From "Spiritual Home" by Rosa Bertoli for Wallpaper, 2016; Photos by Christian Kain
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