“Design is what links creativity and innovation. It shapes ideas to become practical and attractive propositions for users or customers. Design may be described as creativity deployed to a specific end.” (Sir George Cox, former chairman of the Design Council, UK)
Greek products, including wine and spirits, are frequently criticized for being poorly designed. As a result, they fail to communicate with potential consumers. However, over the last few years there has been a new trend towards what can only be called “creative expression” in regards to the product presentation. Some of my personal favourite examples of originality follow below. Some are trendy, others are timeless. Some are elaborate, others are simple. Some draw on traditions from the past, others bring past traditions into the future. All communicate in their own, distinctive way.
Katogi Averoff Red
Katogi & Strofilia is a major medium sized player and one of the better known Greek wineries. Evangelos Averoff founded the winery in the Metsovo region in 1959. The vineyards reach up to an altitude of 1000 metres (nearly 3300 feet), and Averoff was possibly the first to introduce Cabernet Sauvignon to Greece. Katogi & Strofilia was created in 2001, but the product lines are marketed under the separate Katogi Averoff and Strofilia brands.
The Katogi Averoff labels are timeless – and have been around for some time. They use symbols of the Vlach language, one of the four Lower Latin Balkan languages spoken in parts of Northern Greece. Cleverly, they also employ elements of the Cyrillic style in the Greek and Latin words. The label of the red, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Agiorgitiko, is perhaps the most striking one.
Diamantakos is a small family-run winery, located in Naoussa. They produce less than 20000 bottles of wine annually, concentrating on the local Xinomavro and Preknadi varieties. Winemaker is the talented Georgos Diamantakos, one of the very successful ‘young guns’ winemakers in the region, who have been so vital for propelling this appellation forward.
The two labels are minimalistic. There is no pretension, simply a beautiful harmony. Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words. On these labels, the complexities of all things related to the wines are conveyed with a single still image.
This naturally sweet wine is made from sundried grapes from Cyprus’ indigenous Xynisteri and Mavro varieties. The “Anama Concept” is the result of a partnership between Greek Oenologist Lefteris Mohaniakis and Jewellery Designer Kristina Apostolou.
The design pairs up the two ancient arts of Cyprus, winemaking and jewellery. The theme varies with each vintage. The current 2010 vintage (1881 bottles total production) was inspired by the wine’s striking natural colour. To emphasize this, a light coloured oak label with a copper component was designed for the front side of the bottle. The collectable number of each bottle was hand-punched on a sterling silver disk on the back. Natural Cypriot beeswax is used as a capsule and cotton is wrapped around the neck of the bottle. This is a major branding effort.
Finest Roots Premium Spirits
Manos Smyrlakis is an entrepreneur: Despite the current Greek crisis, he gave up his paid job at the start of 2013 to devote himself fulltime to Finest Roots Spirits. He now marks the fourth generation of distillers, who started their work from a now 160 year old distillery, based in Southern Greece. The product line could not be more essential Greek: Rakomelo, Mastiha, Tentura and Herb Spirit are being crafted with only 100% natural extracts, without any flavour essence or artificial additives.
The bottles are being imported from France, and are silk-screened on the front and right side in Greece, as is the wooden cap. The design is eye-catching, the ROOTS brand always spelled in the same order, but contained by a different geometrical shape on each product. It is no surprise that Roots has become the new darling for Athens’ professional bartenders in no time (the line was only launched in February this year).
Terroir by Alexandra Manousakis
Alexandra Manousakis is foremost the face, heart and brain of Nostos Wines (Manousakis Winery), which is located in Chania, on the island of Crete. She is also a gifted artist and painter. Never really capable of simply sitting back and relax, she is constantly working on additional projects where she can make use of her talents. A couple of weeks ago she announced a new initiative to support the local Cretan economy, while also aiding a local school for children with disabilities.
The first local products that went on sale as part of the new “Terroir” line are organic and unfiltered olive oil, and wild sea salt. The bottles are made by a local ceramist; a percentage of the profit of each product is donated to the aforementioned school.
The design incorporates a handmade, high quality, authentic, personal and local feel, while being very clean and modern. The white background and the simple black lettering convey a message in a classical way.
What is your personal favourite?