Lorenz Bäumer’s latest creation was a challenge in both its design and execution. The renowned French high jewelry artist partnered with luxury cognac brand, Hennessy, and heritage crystal maker, Baccarat, to design a carafe for the 75th anniversary of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the premiere U.S. basketball league.
What he created is the Paradis x NBA decanter by Lorenz Bäumer. The 1.75-liter spherical crystal carafe—blown and handcrafted at the Baccarat workshop—has the appearance of an authentic basketball. Its faceted surface pattern amplifies the coppery reflections of the cognac inside. Limited to 75 examples, the carafes are now available for purchase.
The decanter is part of Hennessy’s “Editions Rares” collection. It contains the brand’s rare and exclusive Paradis cognac blend. Hennessy, in a statement, says it is “one of the most original and technically challenging carafes ever made” for the cognac brand.
Bäumer says he envisioned a dynamic, sculptural decanter that would fuse the excitement of basketball with the poetry of Paradis and the fire of a diamond.
Like a gemstone, each crystal globe is hand-faceted in a way that allows the surface as well as the cognac inside to reflect and refract light. The hand craftsmanship ensures that each of the 75 carafes is unique. For finishing touches, the basketball’s “threads” are hand-gilded, and its opening fitted with a “golden” key.
The Paradis x NBA carafe comes in a cube-shaped case crafted in orange leather also conceived by Bäumer. The design is embellished with gold markings retracing the lines of the basketball. When open, it doubles as a trophy case, bearing a signed and numbered gold-finished plaque. Custom designed ritual elements include two balloon glasses, an arced “fusil” (a pipette used to draw the Paradis eaux-de-vie) and a special golden key that opens both the carafe and its case.
Bäumer’s connection with Hennessy goes quite deep. The jeweler, with his business in the historic Place Vendôme in Paris, once served as Louis Vuitton’s fine jewelry creative director. Both Hennessy and Louis Vuitton are owned by French luxury holdings company, LVMH.
Below is an interview with Bäumer where he discusses the design of the decanters.
Anthony DeMarco: How did you get involved with the project?
Lorenz Bäumer: I love to help highlight the rich history of special brands and help them express something new about themselves. Hennessy saw my creations for Guerlain, Louis Vuitton and Chanel and wanted something as unique and special for Hennessy.
A.D.: Why did you choose to get involved with the project?
L.B.: I have always been a big fan of Hennessy and of basketball, so it felt really natural to be involved in such a special project. Hennessy, Baccarat and I all share the same values: beauty, excellence and authenticity. We turn the gifts of nature into something special through our knowhow and time.
A.D.: Was a sphere always going to be the design? It seems obvious but were there other options?
L.B.: The sphere is a symbol of perfection and the color of Paradis somehow matches that of a basketball. The iconic shape of the ball is a sculptural and dynamic design that reflects the excitement of the sport.
A.D.: Did you know you’d be working with Baccarat?
L.B.: Baccarat is the master of crystal cutters, and I love the way they highlight the shapes through the play of light. It is the same as when I cut stones. Baccarat and I have been working closely together for 30 years on various projects.
A.D.: What were the challenges of creating this piece?
L.B.: The technical challenges were numerous 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 manufacturing of a box that opens with the same key, the glasses in the shape of a basketball, just to mention a few.
A.D.: What have you done previously with Baccarat?
L.B.: Two perfume bottles for Guerlain, a line of jewelry called “etoile de mon Coeur,” and some paperweights.
A.D.: What was it like working with Hennessy?
L.B.: Hennessy was very supportive in making my wildest dreams come true. It really felt special to be able to work with such a devoted and inspiring team.
A.D.: How long did it take to design?
L.B.: It takes 600 years of knowhow to complete a project like this: 250 years of Hennessy, 250 years of Baccarat, 75 years of NBA and 30 years of Lorenz Bäumer.
A.D.: How long does it take to make one sphere?
L.B.: One globe takes hundreds of hours of expert craftsmanship to produce. Many different skills are needed starting with Renaud Filloux de Gironde expertise as Hennessy’s master cognac blender. Then there’s the crystal blowing and cutting, the making of the wood for the boxes, the specially dyed leather—so many hours.
A.D.: Does it sparkle and exhibit brilliance and fire like a diamond? Was that one of the objectives?
L.B.: I used all the knowledge that I gained in the last 30 years to maximize the play of light within the crystal. Each decanter is cut individually with different facets every time.
A.D.: How does the carafe design complement the Paradis cognac inside?
L.B.: Hennessy Paradis is a sensual and elegant cognac that delights on many levels. On the surface, its harmony and roundness are accessible to newcomers with an aromatic complexity that true connoisseurs expect. The carafe enhances those qualities.
A.D.: What was the inspiration for the packaging? Who did you partner with to create it?
L.B.: The box is like a jewelry container but more than anything it is inspired by the world of basketball. The wood on the floor, the golden markings that represent a basketball, and a ball or a basketball court. Again, we worked with many skilled artisans.
A.D.: Were there unusual complexities?
L.B.: It was hard to find a way to use the key to open the box and the decanter at the same time, making it simple and efficient.
A.D.: Are you satisfied with the final product?
L.B.: I am very proud of this collaboration and have installed one in our salons at 19 Place Vendome that I use in very special moments.
A.D.: Are you a basketball fan?
L.B.: I am a huge fan of basketball and had the pleasure to attend many games. One of my favorite memories is going to a game of the San Francisco Warriors and being seated front row.