Thomas Derrick, famous hangman of the Elizabethan era, chopped more than 3000 heads during his lifetime. The history goes as follows. Simple soldier, Derrick and his comrades were responsible of rapes and numerous atrocities during the war and thus condemned to death penalty. The official hangman being absent, Thomas exchanged his condemnation for a new job: executioner. With the aim of ever improving his working tools he invented a vertical mat at the top of which hung a pulley. This device became quickly an eponym of his own name: the Derrick.
In 1989, Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well in Pennsylvania. The precious extracted liquid was then distilled to obtain lighting oil, the kerosene. This very first drilling tower from the oil era was called the Derrick by analogy to the Hangman’s tool. It could however be assimilated to the monumental and utopian architecture of Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, particularly the un-built project for the canon forge.
These utopian and somehow subversive smoking, head cutting and digging tools have been freely interpreted for the architectural installation named after the creator of the tool: THOMAS. A new function has been added to the long and fascinating history of the Derrick tower: alcohol production. Working as a vertical distillery THOMAS aspires to the revival of an illegal yet very common activity in some part of Switzerland, one that is far from moral aspirations.