At Art Basel Miami Beach today, artist Julian Mayor will debut his latest artwork, the culminating project of a fruitful, yearlong collaboration with Artnet and Maestro Dobel Tequila.
Inspired by the geometry of the agave plant, from which Dobel’s cristalino tequila is carefully sourced, the UK-based sculptor crafted a nearly eight-foot-long freestanding bar—his most ambitious project to date. In addition, he made steel cocktail vessels and hand-blown tequila-tasting glasses inspired by Mayor’s recent trip to Mexico City, where he fell in love with the city’s long-standing traditions and recent modernization.
While there, a friend introduced him to the artisans at Vissio, a local glass studio where he worked to realize the handmade tasting glasses, which in turn sparked the idea for the cocktail vessels.
After months of tinkering, Mayor is excited to finally unveil the pieces at the fair this week. “I designed the bar to have a bit of a wow factor, so I’m really hoping that it comes alive in peoples’ minds as much as it does in its physical environment,” he said.
The artist spent about two months designing the bar on his computer, playing around with 12 different concepts before locking in the final design. Then, he laser-cut sheets of mirrored stainless steel and “tacked” them together using bullhead screws to ensure the work was structurally sound before welding it all together.
The building process took a little over two weeks. “The final concept was chosen for its look and representation of the collaboration, but also to showcase the art and craft of my work,” Mayor said. “It really pushed the limits of both my creative imagination and welding skills.”
In many ways, Mayor’s exploration of the possibilities of sculpture, enhanced by his use of technology, also reflects Maestro Dobel Tequila’s dedication to preserving the storied traditions of their distillation techniques, while still pursuing innovation.
The spirit company is constantly evolving to enhance the nature of its one-of-a-kind blend—comprised of Extra-Añejo, Añejo, and Reposado tequilas—that are laid together in Hungarian oak casks before being funneled through a charcoal filter to color-correct the liquid and eliminate its bitter notes, ensuring a crystal-clear color and finish.
Mayor similarly seeks a perfect finish for his work, while also allowing the handmade nature of his craft to shine through when viewers examine the pieces up close. “I recognize that the work can appear a little austere at first, and I don’t mind that,” he said. “But hopefully, when you see the craft that went into it, that hand-built human warmth comes through.”
Mayor also hopes that viewers enjoy the barware as much as they do the main event. “I’m really looking forward to guests enjoying Dobel’s tequila in the pieces themselves,” he said of the kickoff dinner where the work will be debuted. “I invested as much attention to detail for the welds of the vessels as I did for the bar, so I really hope they’re well-received.” The pieces are also now available for purchase exclusively online.
Looking back on the last year, the artist notes that the collaboration has contributed significantly to what he describes as one of the most creative periods of his career. The ability to bounce ideas between the creative teams at Artnet and Maestro Dobel was especially helpful in taking his work to new heights.
“I don’t really consider myself to be one of those great artist-hero types,” he joked. “I’m more of a team worker, and, in a sense, because my work straddles art and design, it’s a little bit like an architectural project. While working with the teams was challenging in some ways—because you want to make sure you’re representing everyone involved, while also staying true to yourself—there was a lot of joy in collaborating with others, and that’s a big part of what attracted me to the project in the first place.”
Mayor also says the collaboration has helped him to become more of a risk-taker.
“I’ve learned to take more chances and pursue that initial burst of inspiration more fully when I get it,” he said. “I think when you have an idea, it’s often something that takes five minutes to form in your mind and then you’ve got to go through a long process of trying to retain the fun of those five minutes and actually bring the idea into being. You can’t lose sight of what that was. I think what’s changed this year, gradually, is having the confidence and conviction to believe in the original idea and see it through, rather than water it down. My confidence increases the more vigorously I pursue that burst to the end.”
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