February 26, 2014

Let the Creative Juices Flow, but Don’t Drown in Them

Let the Creative Juices Flow, but Don’t Drown in Them

We love a bizarrely fabricated beverage bottle, almost as much as we adore trying to cram arbitrarily assembled keywords into our articles for the purposes of search engine relevance. “Beverages design” (why plural?) has the potential to be fantastically creative; after all, we have centuries of wine bottle and decanter designs to draw from. Why not go wild with the ideas? C’mon, we dare you.

Well, since the results largely have to fit into center console cup holders (not wine bottles, obviously, except in Europe), not every single beverage container design will soar, but designers do have a great deal of conceptual leeway, which we highly encourage. The point is to push boundaries in order to be noticed, while avoiding the age-old pitfalls: do too much, and nobody will “get” it; do too little, and nobody will notice you from within the crowd of competitors. There’s a delicate balance between the two, and knowing just how far you can push the envelope is key to breaking through in just about any industry. But, pictures are worth a thousand words. Here are some examples of beverage designs that really work in taking things to the next level, without going overboard.

Single Serve Wine Glasses

Talk about a market hit! In the past three or so years, several wineries have been exploring the single serve wine glass concept, since many consumers consider carrying a full wine bottle with glasses on picnics to be quite cumbersome. Also, since it isn’t something that comes on-tap, sports stadiums typically don’t sell wine (except in skyboxes, where it’s also possible to buy raw seafood platters and massages administered by Jean-Claude Van Damme or Heidi Klum).

The single serve wine glass might possibly be a bit on the wasteful side in terms of pure material consumption, but the majority of the disposable wine vessels are recyclable. Also, if you’re concerned about hygiene, Zipz, a single-serve wine manufacturer, uses a specialized wrapper that keeps the glass sterile and prevents wine oxidation.

Energy Drinks and Beverages

Design of these suckers can seem deceivingly easy — you just take an undersized aluminum can, slap on something that looks like it belongs in the X Games, and cover it with energetic, neon colors. That should help you fit in with, the rest of your competition, and get lost on the store shelves also. You can’t just follow the crowd, you have to lead it by seeing where the trends are and figuring out where branding and design is going.

Fictional Energy Drink Bottling

Alright, so our admiration isn’t limited to packaging for real, actual beverages. Design ideas, regardless of whether or not they have made it to store shelves, can influence the industry, and we kind of want to see someone run with this weird concept.

This conceptual beverage design looks like a motor oil container, which is probably meant to convey the idea that your about to have a high-octane experience. Of course, it does sort of fail the cup holder test, but a bit of re-engineering can fix that. The fact that the alcohol content for the imagined “energy drink” is 8 percent is a bit disconcerting though. Of course, drunks can be highly energized right up until the point when they pass out.

Potent Potables

Since liquor is both a luxury and prestige product, it’s important that its packaging has elements of fine artistry if the brand is to be taken seriously. Even the most whimsical designs, when done well, look as though they could easily appear in a MOMA installation. Check out 1000 Acres Vodka bottling. This isn’t some wretched, charcoal-filtered stuff; this is what Superman serves in his Fortress of Solitude.

Elite Water

Alright, this is the water Superman serves in his Fortress of Solitude. Jean-Paul Gaultier? Oh, come on!

This Evian bottle design actually makes water seem more watery than it is. It’s crisp, beautiful, crystalline and bold while being simultaneously delicate. Of course, it was done in cooperation with the French crystal icon Baccarat, so it darned well better be glorious. Even when the luxury-to-the-extreme element is taken away, the ready-to-wear version ain’t half bad.

Beverage bottle design is one of the packaging concepts that really gives designers the ability to flex their muscles from a creativity point of view. They’re fun, they’re functional; they can be elegant or hilarious and when well designed they can actually heighten the beverage drinking experience. Just look at the elite water bottles. They almost make you forget that they only contain friggin’ water, for heaven’s sake.


by Kevin Smith
Managing partner at SmashBrand. We're a group of experienced brand owners, thinkers and world-class designers united by an obsession for creating category disrupting brand experiences.

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