" When you stand in front of it, you don't know what it is. You have no clue whatsoever," says Christian Schwamkrug, design director of Porsche Design Studio. A gleaming tower of stainless steel, the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Private Bar looks more futuristic time capsule than something that houses your preferred post-prandial tipple.
"Normally if you tell a friend, 'I've got my private bar', you would imagine a piece of furniture, where you open doors and drawers. This is something different," says Schwamkrug.
Designed after the shape of a Johnnie Walker bottle, the bar is an angular pillar that stands 2.2 metres high. A diagonal groove slices through it at a 24-degree angle, the same gradient as the slanted label wrapped around the whisky bottle. Like something out of a James Bond film, the bar opens automatically at the touch of a hidden motion sensor. Once triggered, the steel column splits in two: the top half rises slowly in a twisting motion as the bottom falls away exposing a luxurious leather interior lined with bottles of Scotch whisky. "It opens in a way like magic," says Schwamkrug. "You don't hear any sound."
The brainchild of Porsche Design Studio and Diageo, one of the world's largest producers of spirits, the bar is available for a staggering HK$1.48 million. Part of a limited edition of 50, it comes outfitted with a magnum of cask-strength Johnnie Walker Blue Label (one of Diageo's most expensive whiskies), two limited-edition bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue label 1867 and four crystal glasses. For added star power, LED spotlights illuminate the plush interior clad in green leather and Australian lace wood.
At the touch of a button, a secret cooling compartment ascends replete with a custom-designed crystal ice bucket, stainless steel tongs, four extra crystal glasses and a crystal jug for iced water.
According to Schwamkrug, this is one of Porsche Design Studio's most unusual commissions yet. An offshoot of the luxury car manufacturer, the studio is better known for products such as sleekly designed catamarans and coffee makers.
The Austria-based firm partnered with Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau - a German company specialising in upscale interiors for houses, yachts and corporate spaces - to achieve the bar's technical prowess. It took months of development to perfect the device before launching it at luxury London store Harrods and across Asia. Eighteen have been sold to date.