I assume most people know Absolut but, for the record, let’s cover some basics of the vodka spirit: First introduced in 1879 in Sweden and imported into the U.S. in 1979; packaging based on a medicine bottle goes supernova with the series of Absolut [blank] ads in the 1980s; becomes one of the top brands of spirits around the world; is owned by French group Pernod Ricard; and, as it relates this post, introduces its first flavored vodka, Absolut Peppar, in 1986. Since then, Absolut has introduced over ten more flavors, like peach, mango, vanilla, and, most recently, hibiscus. This week Absolut redesigned its complete line of flavored vodkas — that does not affect the main one — in partnership with The Brand Union.
A press release and very thorough library of downloadable images are available here. I recommend peeking through the Design Process and Production Factory folders, as I am showing only a fraction of the ones available.
“This is one of the most dramatic changes we’ve ever made, and our biggest and most transformative design project ever. Our goal was to give our customers distinctive designs that are unlike anything one has ever seen. Vibrant, captivating bottles that bring energy to any occasion and celebrate the fact that every flavour in the Absolut Vodka range is something extraordinary,” says Anna Kamjou, Global Design Director at Absolut. “The standard thinking says a fruit-flavoured vodka requires a picture of the fruit on the bottle. We wanted to break that convention. We asked our design team to reach into the symbolism and myths tied to the ingredients to find each flavour’s core essence — and then amplify that essence through art.”
After interpreting each flavour’s core essence, the designers worked to bring these notions alive artistically. They followed a long tradition of Swedish design and craftsmanship, and brought a ‘by-hand’ aesthetic to the project. That is to say, they stepped away from their computers, took up paper, pens and brushes, and set out to communicate not a flavour per se, but the energy behind each flavour. With Absolut Apeach, for example, soft pastels and a light hand-drawn gesture were used to capture the fruit’s evanescent, sweet fragility and convey a sense of romance. The design for Absolut Pears began with the fruit’s symbolic asso- ciation with longevity and purity, and arrived at an abstract pear shape resembling the symbol for eternity. For Absolut Raspberri, the emotion of love and passion is intensified through the abstract expressionist technique of throwing paint. The same artistic process was repeated across the range.
This will be a review short on words and high on images because, well, look at it. As much as I liked the frosted and tinted bottles previously used by the flavored versions, this new effort is absolutely stunning. The biggest success is that there is nothing literal about any of the solutions: no vanilla beans, just an X; no sweaty close-ups of raspberries, just wild brush strokes; no peaches, just soft pastel blobs; etcetera. I hate to use the word artistic, but I think they have really nailed it in a very contemporary way. The new designs also blend in better with the main Absolut, as they now use the same clear bottle and replace the script legend with the fruity interpretations. From the design process photos below you can tell this was a fun project and the results show it.
Thanks to Yotam Hadar for the tip.