Crit* Montea

Inspired by walking the trails that run through the Altai mountains - where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan meet - Montea is a four flavour range of organic loose teas, blended by the Auri Vallis tea company under the guidance of Vladimir Romaniuk, infused with fruits, berries and herbs from the Altai region.

Taking their inspiration from this unique area, hand picked ingredients and the crafted nature of the tea, Moscow-based design agency IQonic created a packaging solution that utilises a granular illustrative approach to depict a vast landscape and sets this across a tactile material choice.

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Drawing from ancient arts of the Altai dish - what might now be described as pointillism - but with a contemporary eye for composition and brand communication, the small detail that makes up the larger illustrative landscape provides Montea with an interesting and distinctive duality that neatly roles together fine ingredients and the scale of their provenance.

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Mixing the swirls of fresh high altitude air, horizontal planes, vertical cliff faces, the haze of distant mountains and the bright hills of the valleys below - broad and peaked like plates of heaped spices - provide an interesting and contrasting mosaic of motion that function well to symbolise a variety of ingredients that share the same habitat. The loose, inconsistent form, arrangement and change in density of the dots and the pastel shades of the watercolours - with a slight wear to suggest the long history of the region - add a crafted sensibility that is appropriately reflective of the care and time needed for hand picking and careful blending. This is complimented by the tactile qualities of an uncoated substrate choice with a linen deboss surface treatment much like the canvas of a high quality art paper.

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Unfortunately, while sitting well over the lighter detail of the illustrative work and having a straightforward communicative aesthetic, the logo-type is dull and expected. Its deteriorated uppercase characters and irregular spacing does deliver a historic sensibility but it really lacks a sense of originality, distinction or the aged subtly of worn colour.

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The script is however a little better. Built from the hand drawn flourishes of tall ascenders, fluid ligatures, a calligraphic change in line width and the slight but authentic bleed of ink at the terminals it introduces a personal dimensionality that ties in well with the art of the illustration. This is framed by the stained edges of aged parchment that continues to play on the suggestion of an ancient history. A signature detail on the reverse, which again utilises established conventions, adds a sense of exclusivity, a promise of quality, authenticity of origin and a subtle reflection of an individual hand picked process.

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So while the typography struggles to really establish a proprietary brand character, and the website falls incredibly short on expanding on such an interesting ingredient origin, the illustration works incredibly well to distill a large and distant provenance and smaller ingredient detail into a single pack - bringing it closer to hand - whilst appropriately using media and technique to add a crafted tactile dimensionality that should expand on the aroma and taste experience of the teas.

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Richard Baird

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.

Twitter:@richbaird

Blog: BP&O

Portfolio:richardbaird.co.uk

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