Exclusive Interview with Maximilian Riedel, he is the 11th-generation CEO and President of Riedel
It was a pleasure to talk to Maximilian Riedel CEO of RIEDEL about the collaboration with Sir Elton John, design inspirations and family business.
The company RIEDEL is a family owned, 300 year-old crystal company known to be the inventor of varietal-specific steamware. Riedel is the first company in history to recognize that the taste of a beverage is affected by the shape of the vessel from which it is consumed, and has been recognized for its revolutionary designs.
This year 2019 Riedel has announced the continuation of its collaboration with the Sir Elton John Foundation, with the new Cornetto Rainbow Double Magnum. Each of the 99 crystal decanters, handmade in Kufstein, will be engraved with Sir Elton John’s original signature for the second time, following the success of the specially created decanter and collaboration launched in 2017. This year the colours of the rainbow will again serve as an eye-catching design feature on the Cornetto Rainbow Double Magnum, representing tolerance, acceptance, diversity, hope and yearning.
“We are particularly honoured to be able to use Sir Elton John’s original signature for the second time. It will be engraved on each of the 99 decanters. This makes each of the decanters a truly extraordinary, unique piece,” says Maximilian J. Riedel
What was the moment when you knew you would become part in your family business?
I knew it early on. The family business has always been an important part of my life. I am very proud to represent the eleventh generation and I certainly do hope that my kids will be the twelfth.
For what stands Riedel, can you tell us a bit, please?
From our identity, the company is deeply rooted in the best European tradition of entrepreneurship. Riedel Glass is one of the oldest family-owned enterprises worldwide. From the very beginning in the Bohemian forests in 1756 till today we are focused on one thing – high quality glass production.
My grandfather, Claus J. Riedel (9th generation), was a great designer and innovative researcher. He discovered that the taste of wine is affected by the shape of the glass from which it is consumed. Today, Riedel is the creator of the world’s first grape-specific glassware to enhance the flavour of wine, an innovation that has changed the direction of the industry for good. We surely see ourselves as supporters of the wine industry but also as ambassadors for high quality goods produced in in the heart of Europe.
From where do you get your design inspiration?
I get my inspirations from my daily life, from nature, my family, art or interesting encounters. I am also inspired by the work of my ancestors. This is why I installed a museum in Kufstein – the “Glass Cabinet – Retrospective and Think Tank”.
What are the key differences between Riedel and other glass companies?
Most importantly: Our glasses are not designed by a designer. The shapes of our glasses are the result of workshops. Together with winemakers, sommeliers me and my team taste the wine out of differently shaped glasses in a workshop situation. We might start with up to fourteen glasses, including prototypes. In the course of different flights for each glass, their functionality – in terms of bouquet, flavour, in-mouth sensation, finish – is reviewed and evaluated in a selection process. After each wine, a number of glasses is eliminated by a show of hands until finally one glass prevails. I do not know of any other company that has our know how talking of the crucial interaction of glass shape, taste and aroma. And I do not know any competitor who puts this kind of effort into fine tuning the perfect tool for wine enjoyment.
If you had to choose a favourite Riedel creation you have designed, what would it be?
I probably would say my “O” series – a line of stemless varietal-specific wine glasses that became the most successful new collection in Riedel history, revolutionizing how the world viewed luxury glassware. A wine glass that was beautiful and stackable but more casual than our others. The series became the most copied set of glassware designs worldwide.
Can you tell us a bit about your collaboration with Sir Elton John and the limited decanter edition, how came the collaboration together?
The cooperation began in 2017 with a specially created decanter and continued with the “AYAM Rainbow” in 2018 and the Cornetto Rainbow Double Magnum in 2019. In many cultures, the colours of the rainbow represent tolerance, acceptance, diversity, hope and aspiration. These values are more important today than ever before. Each of this years crystal decanters, handmade in Kufstein, will be engraved with Sir Elton John’s original signature for the second time. We are particularly honoured to be able to use Elton John’s original signature for the second time. It will be engraved on each of the 99 decanters this year. This makes each of the decanters a truly extraordinary, unique piece. We donate again EUR 25,000.00 from the proceeds to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Describe a typical day in your life at work.
When I am in Austria I use my drive to the office for my daily conference calls with my Asian team and on my way back home I do the same with my American team. The days in my office vary, depending on the daily tasks. I try to work closely with all my team both in the office and in the factories.
As we are operating worldwide I also travel the world, animating comparative glassware tastings in our glasses. Each year, I educate over 20,000 consumers who attend Riedel’s seminar-style tastings, where they discover the effects that shape, colour and size of glassware have on how wine tastes and smells. And the rest of time I am on my “quest” of always trying to improve our products and looking for innovations.
What is your life philosophy?
Live every moment to its fullest. Stay open minded!