Madonna Dell/Olivo is an award-winning extra virgin olive oil produced by Antonino Mennella on his 2000-tree farm located in the Southern Italian region of Campania. This year will see the launch of a special, 2013 edition Madonna Dell/Olivo with a packaging solution, developed by multidisciplinary design studio NJU, which leverages - through a distinctive 1.5 litre magnum bottle choice, texture and etched illustrative detail - the heritage, high quality and celebratory spirit associated with champagne and the experience and passion of a craftsman.
The exterior of NJU’s design solution - a box with two, well-spaced, uppercase, san-serif weights with unusual cuts across the terminals, varying stroke widths and plenty of unprinted space - has quite an understated but authoritative resolution that conveys an experience and confidence. The typography makes the most of the tall structural choice through a mix of long and slim text boxes across the back - split between two panels but unified by an alignment against a shared corner - and running vertically along the front panels. The perceived premium sensibilities of a silver block foil finish is juxtaposed alongside the restraint of a single black ink across the warm, uncoated grey of the substrate. A contrast that conveys the refined quality of the oil drawn from the earthy origins of the olive.
The external typographic simplicity is met by the internal illustrative and narrative detail of a concertina leaflet/label. This is framed by the weighty and sizable aesthetic, broad shoulders and dark opaque glass of a structural design that borrows some of the aesthetics of the vintage wine sector. A union of high and aged quality amplified by an organic, hand-finished, wax dipped lid that gives it a batch produced exclusivity and a one-off sense of occasion.
The etched illustration of the label is really nicely rendered (or well appropriated), with a good mix of organic texture, detail and depth through shadow. Its stone/wood cut strokes and monochromatic print treatment resolves a the themes of heritage, experience and value through the unhurried, traditional production practices of a craftsman and, through the imagery, perhaps draws an analogy between enduring religious history and the the ancient practice of olive oil production. A contrast between the white, uncoated substrate of the label and the dark, dull gloss of the glass - as well as the obvious disparity in size - drastically enhances the impact of the face while the band across the eyes appears quirky and unusual. The typesetting inside the label is competent but conventional, delivering the necessary narrative elements that reinforce the more interesting and communicative elements of the design.
There is an almost reductionist approach to the packaging solution in the way that it favours imagery and structural choice as visual metaphors rather than focusing on direct and conventional cues. Making great use of established perceptions cross pollinated from other industries to achieve a communicative simplicity and a visual quietness that feels sophisticated but not abstract. A solution that compliments a proposition likely to appeal to customers with an already established brand relationship looking for something distinctive for a special occasion.
Richard is a British freelance design consultant and writer who specialises in logos, branding and packaging. He has written for Brand New and Design Week, featured in Computer Arts magazine, Logology, Los Logos, Logolounge, The Big Book of Packaging and runs the blogs BP&O and Design Survival.