2021 Design Awards: Winery Design, Brand Napa Valley by Erin Martin DesignAuthor:Lindsey Shook
“Just because there is space doesn’t mean you need to fill it with nervous talk or polyester throw pillows,” says designer Erin Martin. “I always say it’s math; everything is math.”
Martin’s formulaic approach to design always stuns us with playful scale, unexpected details and an unmatched casual-cool vibe. She applied this artistic practice inside Brand Napa Valley, a 110-acre property located in St. Helena atop Pritchard Hill that is known for producing three beautifully bold reds. Jim Bean and Christine O’Sullivan, long-time grape growers and former Apple executives who acquired Brand in 2019, wanted to create not only a killer wine but also an exceptional tasting experience that innately connected to the estate’s history and beauty.
The founders hired Martin and her team to work in partnership with Signum Architecture to enhance the overall experience. “Our goal was to create a cool place to drink incredible wine and appreciate what the earth has been so generous in sharing with us,” says Martin. “We owe it everything. It owes us nothing.”
After walking into the stark white main tasting room, Martin knew she had to reduce the brightness so that the focus could shift to the beautiful outdoor surroundings. She doused the walls with a dark grayish green hue that creates an enveloping layer of coziness, inviting you to stay and sip.
A symphony of custom pieces paired with vintage and antique finds dance throughout each room, making the space feel like a modern, rustic residence that you never want to leave. Moroccan rugs, tan leather seating, vintage brass lighting and a dynamic collection of art and accessories make the traditional wine-tasting experience a memory of the past. “I am still trying to paint portraits through architecture and design that represent the people we are serving,” says Martin. “The goal is when the aliens come to visit, they’ll know who the heck lived here.”