Think of a wine decanter and you will likely picture a wide-bottomed jug with a thin neck. This, of course, was designed to allow more oxygen into the vessel to aerate red wine more effectively, which wine connoisseurs say improves the flavor. But that decanter can take up a lot of space on a table, counter, or shelf. Now, an Italian designer has found a way to get the same amount of oxygen in with a much smaller footprint.
The key is in the angle.
Shaped like a slim cylinder with a wide opening, this handblown decanter, designed by Emanuele Pizzolorusso, can be placed in two different positions: horizontal, in which its length provides a large enough surface area for the wine to “breathe;” and vertical, in which it acts like a regular wine bottle but takes up less storage space than traditional decanters. Pizzolorusso’s portfolio includes city maps that can be crumpled instead of folded, and plant pots that can unfold as the plant grows, and now this clever decanter—which sells for about $46 under the British glassware brand Drinkind. It’s currently only available to ship in the U.K.—but it’s a welcome reminder that innovation can be a mere 180 degrees away.
For all the vessels wine has been stored in over the centuries (clay amphorae, oak barrels, glass bottles), the glass decanter, as we know it, was only invented about 300 years ago. In recent years, however, many designers have sought to reinvent this humble vessel—from a whimsical decanter, with a little glass bird at the bottom that agitates and oxygenates the liquid, to a gravity-defying, egg-shaped decanter.
For Pizzolorusso, however, the decanter 2.0 was hiding in plain sight. Inspiration struck when the designer took a closer look at how wine bottles are stored on their side. “I noticed the surface [inside], it’s so much bigger when it’s horizontal,” he says. “I started to think about a shape that could go with that.”
The final shape (at least in its vertical position) looks a bit like the top half of a periscope, with the decanter’s mouth opening to one side. The vessel can hold a full bottle of wine with plenty of room to spare so the liquid doesn’t spill when you tilt it up. At 3.5-inches wide, it’s slightly bigger than a wine bottle yet slim enough to be held with one hand. It also comes with a long flat side to prevent the vessel from rolling away when it’s horizontal.
It may not be rocket science, but the object is an incredibly smart play on surface area—and an intriguing reinterpretation of the classic design principle, form follows function.