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Harpers Global Design Awards winners announced

Published:  11 September, 2015

The judges have spoken and the results are in. See the good-looking crop of winners in this year's Harpers Global Design Awards.

The mounting pressure on wine and spirit brands to stand out from the competition on shelf or in the digital marketplace has never been greater. The level of detail and investment that some brands are now putting into product packaging signals the growing importance of product presentation. Consumers have become increasingly more demanding of brands and so in response packaging designers have had to step up their game.

Consumers now want to know brands and products intimately, and for wine and spirits this includes knowing the story behind the brand, its provenance and production methods - and it must be authentic. Consumers want to be seduced before they have even tried the product.

It was against this highly competitive and demanding backdrop that six judges from across the trade and from professional design agencies came together for the Harpers Global Design Awards 2015 to see which cutting-edge brands excel at captivating the consumer.

David Myerson, managing director of Hurricane Design, explained: "We look at packaging like a blind date and that is exactly what it is. When you see it for the first time it is trying to grab your attention and trying to say something. It is dressed up to make a statement."

Many judges agreed, but there is a balance that many brands still seem to be grappling with when it comes to standing out in the right way.

Tatiana Fokina, chief executive of Hedonism Wines, agreed: "It does grab your attention, but then you look closer. You think, no, actually it could be grabbing your attention for all the wrong reasons."

For Mark Fiddes, co-founder and creative director of IdeaMotel, a Soho-based creative think tank, authenticity of brands has become increasingly important. Some of the packages were beautiful, but, as Fiddes pointed out, they were simply brilliant designs. "I felt like some products were absolute masters of marketing, but I see these products that are total fabrications and images," he said.

Despite the difference in how the judges defined creativity, an equally important element to consider was whether or not a consumer would pick up the bottle from the shelf. For Nick Bell, shop manager at Amathus Drinks Soho, this is critical to how he judges the packaging.

When discussing one particular design, Bell said: "I do think that it would stand out and that consumers would pick it up and read the back label."

Myerson agreed consumer appeal is critical. "In some ways this is the crux of it. What I say as a designer is purely a reaction to the creative purity. Nick gets to ask, 'would someone take it off the shelf?'"

Those that did receive gold medals had "impact, creativity and originality", said Myerson. But they also have designs that might inspire designers and the greater trade to continue to innovate and push boundaries.

For Myerson the golds stood out and, he believed, will speak to consumers and say "there is an idea, there was something great and there was something to latch on to".Tamboerskloof John Spicer Syrah


David Myerson Managing director, Hurricane Design

Tussie Collier Director, Hurricane Design

Rosie Davenport Group editor, Harpers Wine & Spirit

Mark Fiddes Co-founder and creative director, IdeaMotel

Tatiana Fokina Chief executive, Hedonism Wines

Nick Bell Shop manager, Amathus Drinks, Soho, London

Winners over next page >>


Tamboerskloof John Spicer Syrah

Tamboerskloof John Spicer Syrah

Tamboerskloof John Spicer Syrah

Supreme Champion

Brand owner: Gerard de Villiers

Designers: Libby de Villiers & Runette Louw

DM: It comes down to personal taste and what you can connect with and for me this is absolutely wonderful. It is something that I connect with. I like the wit, I like the promotability, I like that it is a gift. I absolutely love that. To me it is says everything about the anti-brand. We are so excited about branding and all the elements that make up the brand and go along with it. But this does something different. You grab it and want to undress the bottle and see what is inside. There is some real subtlety that goes along with that - I love it. It is unique and nothing like I have seen before.

TF: This just has the wow factor for me. It works on so many levels. It has the mystery, the quirkiness, it is lovely to touch and you want to open it. It is perfect. I want to stock it. I have not seen anything like it before. It is so simple. Most brilliant ideas are often simple and this is brilliant.

TC: It is the one that to me is most unique.



Wine Trophy winner

Brand owner: Tomich

Design Agency: The Collective (UK)

TC: This is really beautiful. For a brand new wine it is fantastic. I think it is so easy to get the balance wrong, but they have captured it. I really want to taste the wine. It really nails it. Lots of lovely currency in this one. Really good. I just love it.

TF: The design is clean, simple; really nice paper for the label. The bee is totally part of the story and it is the right reference for the product.

RD: I think it is one of the stand-outs. It is perfect and I love it. The back label is great as well. People often trip up on their back labels when they try to talk about the nuances of their vineyards, but this one is so clear about site selection. It is a quirky region, which comes through along with the passion that they have.

MF: This is just classic. Up on the shelf it just has so much going for it to help it stand out. You can tell that the producers just really care and it has a great story behind the bee. There is a story about the industriousness of the bee. It just feels premium.

DM: This is just so clean and just really lovely, especially the attention to detail like the gold and the tactile links with the clean backdrop. There is great detailing in the substrate and they really took their time. It is wonderful. I really love it.

Don Papa 10 Year Old Spirit

Don Papa 10 Year Old

Spirit Trophy Winner

Brand owner: The Bleeding Heart Rum Company

Design Agency: Stranger & Stranger

NB: This is one of the best. I think it is a good plan to not necessarily focus on it being a rum produced in the Philippines. The Philippines is by far the biggest gin producer in the world, but you don't see a lot of it in the global market so I think that is a smart play. The bottle itself has got really great character.

TF: There are some really nice and fun details within the label. It makes me think of tattoos - which is great because it is reflected in the art on the label of the pirates and adventure. It all plays well together and it works for me.

DM: What I really love about the box is the restraint of its design given the craziness of the art on the bottle label itself. There was something rather nice with the simple design of black varnish on black. I think it is terrific.

MF: It is a fabulous piece of illustration. Remarkable.

Sugrue Pierre

Sugrue Pierre

Brand owner: Wiston Estate

Design Agency: Stranger & Stranger

TC: I think it is beautiful.

MF: I think it is beautiful, too, but I can't read the print on the back label. It is a shame because it is saying loads of great stuff. I think they either need to edit the copy or create a bigger label. There is also a story around the owner's dog.

TF: It looks like it has heritage to it.  It is not trying  too hard and it is really nicely done.



Brand owner: Plantagenet Wines

Design Agency: The Collective (UK)

MF: I really like this one. The story is authentic - about bringing together the viticulturist and the winemaker and how it plays out on the label. The marrying of musical instruments and animals - the story plays all the way through and is consistent throughout the range. The good thing about this is that it grew out of a concept. The two signatures on the label also play into how the whole concept is being driven by the winemaker and the viticulturist.

DM: I really love this one. The label, the name and the crafting of the two together is fabulous. It is incredibly witty. Often you don't see a lot of meaning and designers can be opportunists. But this design really takes their story and the idea all the way through. I think it is brilliant.

TC: This shows the difference between clever, well thought through design and one where they have said "let's go down to the pub and cut and paste a design". I can't help feeling that a lot of them are just saying: "We are just really cool and funky, we are just going to make it stand out." But this one really works. It is beautifully executed.

NB: It really is a unified range and they are simply beautiful.

TF: They would look perfect on the shelf standing all together side by side. The range would have a really nice presence.

CA Winecraft

CA Winecraft

Brand owner: Truett-Hurst

Design Agency: Stranger & Stranger

Note: The judging was based on the cans themselves and not the pre-packed boxes.

DM: The cans are rather charming. The target market is quite young and I think it is one of those bridging drinks. In hand it is well branded. There is a nice retro feel and I think it has its target market right. There is something really interesting about these cans and I am so glad we opened them.

RD: They are quite fun aren't they? I think it moves the market immeasurably, which although commercial has a lot of value. You probably wouldn't mind sitting there and drinking them. They look really classy.

TC: I think that it has great heritage imagery.

TF: If I saw them for the first time in their can form, I'd think "they look great". I would make you buy the whole range.

NB: You aren't going to get many pre-mixed wine cocktails with better packaging that is as innovative.

MF: I would put these into packaged goods rather than wines so it was on a different rack. They would work as a FMCG product. I like that it is borrowing provenance and using a heritage graphic. I think it is a good provocation. Awards should be looking forwards as well as backwards. Sometimes you want to send that hare running and challenge the market. This area of mixed wine cocktails has been neglected.

The Lost Blend

The Lost Blend

Brand owner: Compass Box

Design Agency: Stranger & Stranger

NB: Compass Box in general has been doing really interesting, really different designs and that does draw people to them. People go for them even if they aren't sure what it is because their designs are so elaborate. I'm happy to give it full marks and think it's worthy of the gold. The bottle and the box are amazing. The fact that they have multiple different designs and each one has lost items which play into the name is interesting. The uniqueness in the varied designs really draws people in.

TF: I am imagining the spirits store and aisle and then you have this beautiful bottle on the shelf. It appeals to a younger audience and it is fairly accessible in terms of price. It stands out. It is creative. It should be ideally displayed with the box. It has a very concise brief and it does exactly what it says in the brief. The quality of the paper stock is amazing and it is very tactile.

TC: It is an innovative approach to the category and it is so much better than some of the efforts that we have seen. I love the box and I think it is just beautiful.

RD: It moves things on and is incredibly innovative. It is just really interesting. I agree the brief is short and sweet, but it delivers.

MF: It looks beautiful and the idea that they are all different it is really clever.

Crazy Diamond

Crazy Diamond

Brand Owner: Triggerfish Brewery

Design Agency: Sumi Creative

RD: I'm scoring this really highly. It is a favourite from the range. I love the wrapping and writing.

DM: I really love it. I think it is fun and it does what it says on the can. It is crazy. There are times when I think an eclectic madness is called for and this is it. I know a lot of people are also doing witty things with barcodes and that is also fun. This is sharing beer which funnily enough makes me like the label even more. It turns beer into a different thing and gives it a different avenue.

TC: I really like it. I love the imagery, there are lots of bits of 1950s, gorgeous and eye-catching imagery. The packaging is over the top.

NB: With an abv above 13% you know it is going to be crazy and the label and the packaging fit. People will go for it, but it will be more of a gifting beer than for personal consumption. Having the playful label will definitely help to draw people to it.