The perfect form
“If I weren’t a visual artist, I would have designed a barbeque,” Andreas Reichlin says. Studies of form introduced Reichlin, who has made a name for himself with carved wooden sculptures, to steel, with which he created a brazier – the “Feuerring”, a sculpture that combines conviviality, enjoyment, and aesthetics. The challenge was, by means of reduction, to find the perfect shape and create an impeccable link between ring and bowl. In his creative work Reichlin had always been searching for the “primeval form of energy” and has been inspired by sculptor Constantin Brâncuși’s work. The more pared back the form is, the more difficult things are, as then every detail has to be just right,” he explains. Thanks to welding, the fire sculpture looks as if it is made from a single cast. The steel’s natural oxidation process and treatment with oil give the finish natural characteristics all of its own, which change over the course of time.
A studio made of steel and wood
One can take a closer look at the “Feuerring”, for example, in Andreas Reichlin and his partner Beate Hoyer’s new studio. Located in a picturesque setting in Immensee on the banks of Lake Zug in Switzerland, all the 15 versions of the “Feuerring” currently available have found a place on the forecourt there. Right by the entrance, the three parts (which are made separately and then welded together) are on display on a high rack: an inner bowl, an outer bowl, and the circular barbeque section. Reichlin designed the almost 100-square meter, cube-shaped building, which opens out on two sides, to the footpath and to the water, together with Ivan Marty of Marty Architektur. Made of steel and flamed oak wood, the architecture reflects the studio’s values, which are important for the “Feuerring”: Flexibility, uniqueness, and reduction to the essentials. Cut into 40-millimeter wide strips and joined together vertically, the deep-black pieces of wood that make up the facade look homogeneous, powerful, and calm. Together with steel elements, whose finish, like the wood, will change with time, the building, like Andreas Reichlin’s sculptures, will keep altering visually.
Beate Hoyer and Andreas Reichlin have been passing on the pleasure they experience with the “Feuerring” to clients for ten years now. “We initially got a lot of ridicule for our idea, so I knew that we were different and on the right road,” Reichlin says. The artist is particularly keen on the company remaining authentic: “You can only be genuine and approachable if it’s not about mass,” he adds. Consequently, every “Feuerring” is hand-made in a long work process until every little detail is just right. As regards production in Küssnacht am Rigi, sustainable materials are an important issue, as the “Feuerring” is intended to be for life. “You can do just about everything wrong with the “Feuerring”, but it will still survive,” Reichlin says. With regard to sustainability, the transportation packaging is no exception: The barbeque ring is protected by paraffin paper and then placed in a wooden interlocking system that is fastened with just three screws and four clamp fittings. After the ring has been unpacked, the untreated wood can either be used for your first barbie or the interlocking system be put back together again and used for raised -bed gardening. All that is needed to clean the unit are a steel brush and spatula.
The “Feuerring” is also surprisingly versatile in terms of function: As a sculpture, brazier, barbeque, and source of sound. “If the “Feuerring” has a ring to it, everything else makes a clanking sound,” Reichlin say laughing. At exclusive events such as Designers’ Saturday in Langenthal the ring’s aesthetic form, in conjunction with fire creates an atmosphere of companionship and relaxation. Enjoyment is assured through collaboration with extraordinary chefs, who present the versatility of and pleasure of culinary experimentation with the “Feuerring”. All year round, top chef Chris Züger creates menus on the ring that have absolutely nothing in common with standard barbequing. In a gentle, healthy way he cooks high-quality food, from Tomahawk steak, mussels and vegetables, to chestnuts – gourmet cuisine defined by passion. Stefan Wiesner, the “sorcerer from Entlebuch”, demonstrates other aspects of the “Feuerring”: In his restaurant Rössli im Eschholzmatt he offers, among other things, courses in “alchemistic” cooking using the “Feuerring”. Wiesner’s natural cooking combines a philosophical mindset with regional produce and creates new taste sensations. The chef uses the forest not just as a source of firewood for the “Feuerring”, but also for its plentiful aromas and ingredients, from spruce needles and gentian root, to formic acid. His creations are those of a modern-day Druid, who in his cooking lab tries out new essences, scents, and unusual components from stones and rusty nails to coal and leather. So as to be able to pass on the recipes, Beate Hoyer and Andreas Reichlin launched theFEUER & RING cookbook set featuring a good 70 culinary variations by the author and food stylist Judith Gmür-Stalder and top chef Chris Züger.
Even though the “Feuerring” is becoming increasingly successful, Beate Hoyer and Andreas Reichlin have no intention of expanding rapidly: “Growing sustainably, working professionally, and not going with the crowd is important to us,” Reichlin says. They intend to implement their creative visions for the “Feuerring” in a down-to-earth manner, with no time pressure. Their idea has in the meantime inspired numerous imitators, something that Andreas Reichlin is unperturbed by. “The plagiarisms are just barbeques, whereas every “Feuerring” is a sculptural one-off of the highest quality,” he says.