Jonathan Primeau, the 42-year-old founder and president of Montreal-based CellArt (cellart.com), used to say he wanted to dominate his field. His company, which designs custom wine spaces and collaborates with artists to create one-of-a-kind artworks that serve as wine storage, has surpassed expectations. “I was able to combine so many of my passions—art, symbolism and spirituality, travel, people, the technical aspects,” he says. “I don’t say that anymore because what I want to do is something I love that is unique.” Indeed, Primeau has no competitors or imitators.
Arguably, his most revolutionary intention was to excavate the wine cellar from its subterranean darkness and make it an integrated part of the home’s living spaces. This has led to a shift in his client demographic. When he started in the mid 2010s, 95 percent of his clients were men over 65. Because the wine rooms are now part and parcel with the interior design, now the majority are women averaging 40 years of age.
“I like art that is obsessive,” he says, by way of explaining, for example, Myriam Dion’s work Garden Planimetry (above). It is a wall featuring a grid of lockers, each door illustrating the layout of an actual, world-renowned Renaissance garden. The wine stashed in each originates from vineyards near that particular garden.
Mathieu Beauséjour’s Flux, made of black steel and cherry wood, stands in a vineyard’s cavernous wine-tasting room. The website describes it as “a wave of wine that carries us beyond ourselves, like drunkenness and its passions.”
In Frédéric Cordier’s Fade Out, proposed in either black-painted wood or silver maple, the density of pegs holding the bottles, which appear like pixels, dissipates from left to right until the form disintegrates completely.
In Open Windows, Samantha Holmes created a kind of sanctuary using abstracted imagery of stained-glass windows—figures, quatrefoils, rosettes, and so on. Each locker door is a tracery cut by hand from a sheet of gold metal.
CWS-LXI consists of copper panels that slide on illuminated tracks to reveal a secret wine room featuring mahogany millwork. The plaster all around is impregnated with a metallic pigment that makes the entire space glow like a treasure cave.