'Do you speak Design?' Salone del Mobile Milano 2023 to probe in its renewed edition
by Jincy IypeFeb 17, 2023
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Sunena V MajuPublished on : Feb 21, 2023
Most brands that are established by celebrities, focus on their names as part of the branding and relevant marketing pegs. Whether it be makeup, skincare, fashion or even home decor, brand endorsements profit from the popularity of the names associated with them. In such a scenario, product design is not something that people are particularly looking for or into. But when American model Kendall Jenner launched the latest version of her brand 818 Tequila, she turned to Milan-based industrial designer Valerio Sommella to design the bottle. The Eight Reserve by 818 Tequila appears in tones of light amber with copper hues and demonstrates aromas of a blend of vanilla, clove and cinnamon, toasted nuts, honey, orange peel, and black cherry.
American brands and celebrities endorsing and producing tequila has raised a few controversies over the years, mainly because such businesses put small family-owned tequila makers, especially from Mexico, out of business. While these discourses remain, Jenner’s brand's name takes inspiration from her hometown, Calabasas in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. However, with the bottle design of this new launch, 818 Tequila and Sommella pay tribute to tequila’s native roots in Mexico. The handmade ceramic decanter is said to be produced by local artisans in Pachuca, Mexico adorning the ceramic art of the region. Shaped like an '8' in the front and a '1' when viewed from the sides, the white ceramic bottle mimics the brand’s name 818 and symbolises its history, as Sommella defines, “818, by name and by nature.”
The Italian designer recounts the inception of the project from his encounter with one of Jenner’s business partners. That conversation led to the thought process of creating a bottle that will not just be a container but an identity for the product and a keepsake object. Sommella shares that the design process was a journey of unravelling many ideas for its graphic design, varying from pottery, vinyl record covers, metal teapots, and cartoons. While the initial stages of the bottle design discussed the possibility of limited-edition bottles, the final product emerged as a collectable design that goes beyond a limited-edition item.
“The whole process is spread around the world. The development process was done in Milan in my studio, prototypes were developed in Los Angeles and the final production was in Mexico,” shares Sommella. He has worked in the field of lighting design, furniture design and industrial design, as well as consumer electronics and accessories, with his material exploration for design primarily rooted in metal and wood. However, with the design for Eight Reserve, Sommella explored the diverse potential of ceramic as a material, experimenting and learning from the craftsmanship and expertise of the local artisans in Pachuca. Talking about his journey of working with ceramic, he shares, “Each material is different, each one with its own strengths and weaknesses, and ceramic is no exception. Designing with a material is understanding its features, possibilities, and limits. Ceramic was the perfect material for this project, it feels naturally precious with its weight and its finishing possibilities. Last but not the least, this shape would have been impossible in glass.”
Produced through slip casting and then glazed, the process of creating the bottle is completely artisanal. Much of what the bottle stands for is the unique identities of Mexican art and craftsmanship. Respecting the nature of the bottle, the simple and minimal design remains almost label-less, emphasising its materiality and making. “We kept only the necessary information on a small sticker on the back, a simple solution that makes this bottle even more unique,” adds Sommella.
In a time when brands move towards innovative marketing techniques and million-dollar plans for advertising, can the identity of a brand be visualised in its product design?
by STIRworld Mar 25, 2023
Japan House London’s exhibition titled KUMIHIMO: Japanese Silk Braiding by Domyo, brings the 1300-year history of the ancient Japanese silk-braiding technique, kumihimo to the United Kingdom.
by Jeroen Junte Mar 24, 2023
Droog, that changed the perspective of design, returns to Milan for the very last time with the show Droog30: Design or Non-Design? at the Triennale di Milano.
by ERCO Mar 24, 2023
The German lighting brand adds Uniscan to its extensive repository of lighting designs, with a clear focus on art galleries and museums.
by Vladimir Belogolovsky Mar 23, 2023
Vladimir Belogolovsky talks to New York-based preservationist Jorge Otero-Pailos about the nature and extent of pollution and its role in his transformation into an artist.
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