Saturday, 26 April 2008

Extravagance in Glass Bottles

The supermarket shelves are overloaded and the consumers can’t see the wood for the trees, thanks to the extensive assortments showcased. And thus the consumer product companies have to do anything to attract the attention of the consumer to seduce him to make the purchase. Packaging designs as well as the excessively printed graphics are crying out for attention, but it seldom leads to extravagance.

That aspect you see only in the spring water, spirits, wine and champagne market segments, where the manufacturer intently creates a high exclusivity for himself and his product, targeting the top of the market, not infrequently turning the product presentation into idiocy.
It is obvious that the question: “Is it or is it not extravagance,” for simple (spring) water is answered at much a lower level than for champagne and other exclusive spirits. When a consumer has to pay USD 8,00 or USD 10,00 for a 750 ml (although luxuriously designed) bottle of ordinary water, it can be called extravagance. However I laid the bar much higher. The here described Bling spring water will cost you roughly USD 40,00 or more a bottle.
Evian takes the cake with its exclusive Alpine spring water in a limited edition bottle baptized Ice Queen, which goes for a minimum of USD 1.000.

The other, here described examples are: Gold Flakes vodka with edible gold flakes which sells for USD 60,00 a bottle. Although the price is not extravagant, the design surely is. The next example is the very limited edition of Bombay Sapphire Dry Gin for USD 200.000 (Yes, you read correctly: two hundred thousand USdollars). Super extravagant, even with the entire proceeds going to a charity.
Last but not least Veuve Clicquot’s rose champagne with a packaging that includes the champagne and a champagne cooler. Just USD 4.500.
Judge for yourself.

Consumers buy bottled water for convenience, as a healthy refreshment or because of concerns about the quality of tap water. Bottled water sales have increased about 10 percent a year for the last decades, and some four years ago they passed sales of coffee, beer and milk in volume. But that is simple bottled water, a mass product, of which the consumer mostly doesn’t know where it is coming from. Ah, but there are magnificent springs in this world with crystal clear water and the companies which bottle from these springs like to be recognised in the world. Water for the upper class, the happy few.

The most lavishly decorated water bottle in the world
The bottle of Bling Beverages LLC, Beverly Hills, Calif., supplied by Saint-Gobain Containers and Vitro Packaging, is an acid etched frosted glass bottle hand-decorated with the most beautiful and luxurious genuine Swarovski crystals. Bling h2O, the creation of Hollywood producer Kevin Boyd, is available in 750- and 375-ml bottles, each size decorated with 60 genuine crystals. At the peak of ridiculousness, Bling offers the Swarovski crystal laced bottles of water at USD 34,95 per 750ml. Ridiculous or not, Bling h2O is an award winning water in an award winning frosted glass bottle with genuine Swarovski crystals and in the marketplace (bars and clubs, the product’s primary distribution channel), it often sells for substantially more.

Custom Beverage Solutions served as the product development consultant for this brand, strategically positioned to target the expanding luxury consumer market. Much of the USD 35 is due to the "limited edition" bottle decked out in Swarovski crystals. Billed as "couture water", it seemed as if people in Hollywood are flaunting their bottled water like it is part of their life-style. Whether the bottles had a cool shape or came from an exotic island, none truly made that definition, except Bling h2O. Arguably the most expensive bottled water in the world, before Evian came with its Ice Queen bottle, Bling h2o is clearly making water history.

Bottled at the Source in Tennessee, the water is a winner of the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting Award. The spring flows a mere 275 m from the bottling facility thus reducing the possibility of contamination.

Over the last decade, the name Swarovski has become widely recognized as the brand that provides the sparkle on Oscar gowns, trendy iPod covers and Paris Hilton's crystal-crusted mobile phone. Crystals are fairly uncomplicated to produce: a combination of quartz sand and water melted at high temperatures. The rhinestone crystals, most often seen, are diamond like, clear and without colour. Its value as a luxury commodity comes from the perception of its quality and design, while the name Swarovski adds a certain prestige to a design. And it also raises the price.

Evian’s Ice Queen
Evian, one of the world's premier bottled water brands, is owned by the France-based Danone group. In 2001 the group became the world's largest producer of bottled waters (in terms of volume). But that’s not all. Since 1926 Evian is arguably, the No 1 in natural spring water in terms of quality. According to the factory every drop of Evian takes over 15 years to filter through the mineral rich glacial sediments in the pristine French Alps. Evian comes from the Cachat Spring located on the Southern shore of Lake Geneva, in the town of Evian-les-Bains and is bottled at the source.
To commemorate this exceptional position, Evian introduces, each year, a limited edition of its exceptional water in an exceptional bottle.

This year there are two designs. There is the one for the common consumer, who likes to go luxuriously once in his life. And there is the one for the happy few.
The Evian Prêt-à-Porter has a frosted lace pattern over the bottle, while the Haute Couture version is bottled with the same spring water but in an exclusive glass bottle in the shape of an ice queen with a voluminous alpine skirt.
The famous French fashion designer Christian Lacroix created both bottles.
The 750 ml Prêt-à-Porter hit the market in Canada for around USD 6,00, although up-market restaurants will charge you USD 9,99. The bottle, surely becoming a collectible, will end up at eBay, where the standard Lacroix bottle is offered at this moment for USD 50,00.
The Haute Couture bottle is a different story. Only 99 pieces have been created, which will be auctioned for a charity starting at USD 1.000. Doubtful that one will appear at eBay.

With creating new and innovative packaging Evian is not entering an unknown battlefield. The global premium spring water leader has been involved in fashionable packaging for decades. Unique designs like the Nomad sports bottle, the limited edition teardrop glass bottle, the flip-cap bottle, the 2007 French Alps bottle and the 2006 limited edition of Romero Britto glass bottle prove that Evian's commitment to packaging is firmly rooted. With the limited edition of Lacroix’s 2008 Ice Queen Evian obviously remains committed to providing creative appeal, premium style, and a luxurious experience to its consumers.

A Bottle As Gemstone
Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin is a quality gin from the house of Bacardi and reports to be special due to the ten different plants used to flavour the gin. The brand is well-known around the world for its striking, translucent blue glass bottle design.
Having the aureole of exclusivity and craftsmanship, it is fitting then that through its links with the global design community, Bombay Sapphire supports the inspirational designs of international artists, designers and architects resulting in a highly limited edition of a very unusual bottle design.

Described as an artful collaboration between the distiller, the crystal polisher, the jeweller and the designer, Bombay Sapphire Revelation is a collection of only five absolutely breathtaking luxurious bottles. The bottles are honed in the shape of giant gemstones with 10-facets, each facet representing one of the botanical ingredients of Bombay Sapphire Dry Gin. All five bottles are identical with exception of the closures, which are each uniquely decorated with diamonds and sapphires.

The well-known Karim Rashid designed the five Revelation bottles, which were hand-crafted, honed and polished in France by crystal craftsman Baccarat, after which the British Garrard, the oldest jewellery house in the world, took care of the decoration with the diamonds and sapphires. Bacardi had simply to fill the bottles with the high quality gin.
The value of the collection is USD 1 million, but each bottle (price USD 200.000) will be exhibited separately, during a period of three months, at one of five international airports (London, New York, Dubai, Sydney and Singapore) around the world.
The proceeds of the sale will go to the charity, The Smile Train, which provides life-enhancing cleft surgery to children in poor countries. Along with the beautiful Revelation bottle the new owners will also receive a year’s supply of Bombay Sapphire gin.

Floating Edible Gold Flakes
Gold Flakes Supreme is a French quadruple-distilled vodka, made with 24-karat gold flakes that float and glitter magically in the glass.

Everything is special with Gold Flakes Supreme, the bottle as well as the liquid. It is an ultra-premium vodka drawn from crystal clear filtered underground spring water and distilled with the most expansive natural ingredients and adorned with 24-karat edible gold flakes, which float and glitter in the liquid.
The ultimate extravagance. And that is exactly the market segment Gold Flakes is projected at or as the company statement declares: “Gold Flakes is the perfect antidote to these uncertain financial times. It is a no risk venture, a liquid asset that will return the investment in pure pleasure.”

In the USA this unique French vodka is marketed by Shaw-Ross Importers for USD 60,00 a 750ml bottle.
Despite all its exclusivity, the unique ingredients, the with gold plated bottle and the edible gold flakes, this vodka costs only USD 60,00. You wonder whether it is all gold that glitters.
By the way never you are able to compare a martini mixed with this vodka, despite all its gold glittering, with the true extravagant and famous martinis as the “Engagement Ring Martini” or the one with the pearl at the bottom, but trendy clubs and upscale bars are starting to sell Gold Flakes as the next “it” thing in the world of glamorous drinking.

Veuve Clicqout Pink Champagne
For Karim Rashid it is the second collaboration with the Veuve Clicquot Champagne House, celebrating Veuve Clicquot's Pink Champagne. With Karim Rashid’s sweeping pink lines and feminine appeal, this Veuve Clicquot Globalight limited edition champagne cooler, he designed, intends to "encapsulate the bottle with warmth" and surround it with light. Karim Rashid is no stranger to luxury, as we have seen his designs for the extravagant bottle of Bombay Sapphire Dry Gin.
This is the latest collaboration between Veuve Clicquot and leading designers such as Andre Putman, Pablo Reinoso, Pucci, Christophe Pillet, Christian Schwamkrug of Porsche Design Studio, and Jason Bruges.

Reportedly Rashid drew his inspiration from a random brainstorming scribble and the idea of a purse or handbag. The creation serves 3 functions: serving as a way to showcase and carry the champagne, cooling the champagne, and lighting the champagne.
A bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rose will remain chilled for 4 hours and the LED lights will give a soft glow for the same time, making Globalight also an ideal accessory for exclusive outdoor entertaining.

Only 500 Globalights have been created worldwide. In the United States, they will be available from May on at for a suggested retail price of USD 4.500.

I know there are many more packages out there which you could classify as extravagant, but never forget that the term “extravagance” is a relative conception which definition often says more about the person than about the object. What is extravagant for me might just be luxurious for any other, or even common. As soon as it is a product exclusively for the snobbish or blasé populace and the used materials don’t have a technological function and the price of the final product is in disparity with the value of the product to be consumed, you can speak, in my opinion, of an extravagant packaging.


Friday, 11 April 2008

Who says: “Art and packaging design are hard to combine.”

Packaging labels often are imprinted with screaming promotion texts in gaudy colours in their attempt to attract the attention of the consumer, who often can’t see the wood from the trees. Luckily some consumer product companies are using a more educated market approach. To stand out on the crowded supermarket shelves they introduce real art in the printing of their packages with just a trifle of company promotion, inviting the consumer to reach out for the product to know more about it.

I sampled three recently introduced packages which combine art and packaging design so perfectly that they became collectables.

1. Coca-Cola Brasil
Each year during the Fashion Week in São Paulo, Coca-Cola Brazil launches its limited-edition Coca-Cola Light bottle decorated with a full-body shrink film from Sleever International.

The 237-ml glass bottle exclusively distributed during the Fashion Week and exclusively at places participating in the event has an outstanding printing quality for a fashion world highly sensitive to the aesthetic aspects of design and decoration.
The company used the Sleever Digisleeve to provide a high-quality personal touch to the decoration, providing full-body decoration with accurate positioning. The differences in the bottle’s diameter were overcome by optimal stretching of the film over the bottle’s contours.
The bottle won an ABRE Trophy in Brazil and a WorldStar for packaging.

2. Mountain Dew with Green Label Art
Last year Mountain Dew launched a limited-edition series of aluminium bottles featuring designs created by a variety of artists, the so called Green Label Art. This series marked the first time a carbonated soft drink was packaged in an aluminium bottle in the USA.
The Green Label Art artists are an eclectic mix, ranging in style and notoriety, from apparel and sneaker designers to a vinyl action/toy designer and a lead singer from a top indie band.
The artists were given a plain, 16-oz (474 ml) aluminium bottle and asked to create their expressions of Mountain Dew. Treating the bottles as a canvas, the artists used a variety of approaches and applications including: tattoo design, cut-and-paste materials, paint, charcoals and computer graphics.

3. Exquisite Wine and Contemporary Art
No doubt, art and packaging design combine perfectly.
After more than two decades in the limelight, Kenwood Vineyards' highly-acclaimed Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon reigns as a premier marriage of fine art and fine wine. The combination of the fine art of winemaking with the work of contemporary artists creates an elegant, easily identifiable package, while promoting beautiful artwork at the same time.

The artistry displayed on the bottle and within makes each new Artist Series release an event and every Artist Series vintage a prime collectable. Yet Kenwood Vineyards has always seen the Artist Series Collection as a work in progress, with each vintage a unique opportunity to excel.
In the years since, the Artist Series has presented art by important artists from the past, including Pablo Picasso, Henry Miller, Alexander Calder and Tamara de Lempicka.
The Kenwood Artist Series for the Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 shows the inimitable style of the artist Kenjilo Nanao. The labels are pressure sensitive (so they can easily peeled off) and are printed on Estate # 8 paper. The label is six colours with foil stamping, with a high build silk screen. Heck Art in Beverly Hills, CA did the design adapting Kenjilo Nanao’s artwork.

For more images and enlarged images click here.

© Weslley Murylo De Souza Steeman

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

"Raccolto di Sardegna" - Microwave Artichokes Kissed by the Sun

Artichokes are a delicacy, but difficult to prepare and therefore not very popular in the common household. Either you buy artichokes green and fight to get the hard outer leaves and thorns off the plant to stay with the heart which really is the delicious part of the plant or you buy hearts in tins of which the autoclave sterilisation process have destroyed most of the delicate taste.

Wikipedia tells us that “The Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a perennial thistle. It grows to 1.5-2 m tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery glaucous-green leaves. The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about 8–15 cm diameter with numerous triangular scales; the individual florets are purple. The edible portion of the buds consists primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the involucral bracts and the base, known as the "heart"; the mass of inedible immature florets in the centre of the bud are called the "choke."

Delicious but hard to handle. The Italian cooperative Santa Margherita came up with a simple as well as brilliant solution. Microwaving artichokes? Nobody ever tried it before. But Santa Margherita did prepare them for cooking in the microwave and launched this novelty under the brand Raccolto di Sardegna: four ready-to-use artichokes, packaged to be cooked in a microwave.

Raccolto di Sardegna has the flavour of the sun of Sardinia slightly allayed by the sea breezes that fill the air with salt. Only here, on the plains of Santa Margherita di Pula in the south of Sardinia, the combination of sky, water and land, tilted by generations of farmers, result in extraordinary climatic conditions that make every artichoke a much desired delicacy with a rare and inimitable flavour.
The Santa Margherita Artichoke is a variety known as "Carciofo Spinoso Sardo", because it grows on the Italian island Sardinia and it shows some thorns. Its taste is so intense and pleasant that it is locally consumed even uncooked.

The special packaging presented by Santa Margherita contains four fresh ready-to-eat artichokes. Santa Margherita took care of the product's selection, cutting and washing. Only the "hearts" of these exceptional artichokes are left, after having removed the external leaves and all the thorns, freshly packed ready for cooking.
The cooking takes only a few steps as the packaging (without its plastic film) can be placed in the microwave straight-away with a cooking time of only 3 min. after which the artichokes are ready to be served. Microwave artichokes have a shelf-life of 15 days.

source: FreshPlaza

© Weslley Murylo De Souza Steeman - 80349

From Fridge to Mouth in 60 Seconds - Oscar Mayer’s Deli Creations

You are hungry between meals or just want a quick lunch. What to do? If you go to the supermarket to buy a frozen sandwich and back in your office put the sandwich in the microwave, your hunger is over when you open the door after a minute and discover what the microwave have done with your nice sandwich. The meat or whatever is steaming hot and your roll is also hot, but soft and sad, sticking to the roof of your mouth when you try to eat it.

40% of the working Americans, according to a recent market research, eat lunch - it is amazing that it still has this title - still slaving at their keyboards. Approximately 70% continues working during lunch time or ‘steal’ just a few minutes to wolf down a quick bite. Of those who sneak time to eat, nearly two-thirds nibble on a cold lunch and say their meal is bland, boring or completely and utterly forgettable.
Oscar Mayer recognised the lunch problems.
“As we looked at the state of the lunch hour, we found many Americans were looking for convenient ways to free themselves of brown bag boredom and enjoy a hot lunch,” says Chris Carlisle, senior brand manager for Oscar Mayer, “So, we set out to create an innovative new product to satisfy America’s love for deli meats in a more convenient way.”

That’s nice sales talk, but how do you get a bread bun hot and crispy and your delis and other ingredients hot and nice tasting. And above all as quick lunch 60 seconds (We are in a hurry, remember)

Oscar Mayer’s Deli Creations sandwiches are complete. Each package contains all the fixings for a delicious sandwich with fresh-baked tasting bread, made with Kraft's proprietary dough technology, generous amounts of Oscar Mayer meats and Kraft cheese, plus Kraft condiments, specifically, Kraft steak sauce and Grey Poupon mustard. All ingredients are separately packed and are grouped upon a QuiltWave tray and packaged in a paperboard overcarton for marketing from the refrigerator case.
A consumer simply unwraps the various components to build the sandwich, and places the modelled sandwich on the QuiltWave tray for microwaving.
And that’s the secret.
The revolutionary QuiltWave active microwave packaging, a development of Graphic Packaging and composed from PET/adhesive/paperboard/adhesive/metallised PET/release coating, heats the bread to a soft and warm consistency, while at the same time fully melting the cheese and warming the meat. QuiltWave’s exceptional performance is due to unique laminated quilts, or pockets, which expand when exposed to microwave energy and provide close contact with the food product. The hot surface, immediately next to the food, drives away moisture and heats the bread just right to a fresh taste and texture without drying it out.

In addition to the QuiltWave microwave receptor tray, Deli Creations use a unique camphor-shaped outer carton produced by Graphic Packaging. The carton is made from 18-point (0,45 mm) solid unbleached sulphate and are litho-printed in seven colours, plus a glossy coating to attract shopper attention. The carton also incorporates a reverse-cut score opening mechanism for easy consumer access

Deli Creations are available in five stock keeping units (SKU's) - Steakhouse Cheddar, Oven Roasted Ham and Cheddar, Honey Ham and Swiss, Turkey and Cheddar Dijon, and Turkey Monterrey.

The QuiltWave microwave receptor tray allows the busy-bee to enjoy a delicious, hot Oscar Mayer Deli Creations Sandwich in about a minute

© Weslley Murylo De Souza Steeman - 70424