How Pond Design Celebrated Pride Month With Absolut

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Last June, Pond Design was fortunate enough to work with Absolut in creating a special edition rainbow bottle for Pride month. So enamored by the bottle’s hand-painted look celebrating LGBTQ rights, we decided to speak with Pond Design about working with this iconic brand.

Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

Pond Design: We started the project with the awareness that the Pride Rainbow Flag is an iconic symbol. This is both a blessing (immediately recognizable) and a challenge (can easily become a design cliché). For the Absolut Pride, we wanted to find a way to dress the Absolut bottle in the Rainbow colors in a unique and personal way. We initiated an extensive exploration process, investigating colors and pigments, different application and painting techniques, numerous painting tools and types of surfaces. We filled every inch of our workshop with sketches and drafts, until the whole space looked like one big, colorful and exciting rainbow.

Once we settled on a couple of interesting painting techniques, a new round of experimentation was done. Once we reached a substantial quantity of sketches, we started selecting the best bits and pieces. In the next phase designs were scanned and digitally reworked into a number of options that were virtually tested on a 3D bottle, twisting and turning them around to figure out what worked best.

After client approval and a round of finalization, the designs entered a test-printing period. Due to specific technical limitations, it turned out that we needed to rework the design almost entirely following the feedback from the pre-production agency. The designs were then optimized again for the suggested screen-printing technique. 

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What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with Absolut Rainbow Flag Edition packaging and how did you accomplish it?

Pond Design: The goal was to express a belonging to a community and celebrating individuality, tolerance and diversity. We created at least a hundred versions of an extremely simple, well-known and iconic symbol in order to find the best way to express this sentiment.

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How did you make this packaging feel unique and able to honor Pride, and not simply like you'd put a rainbow flag on it without a second thought?

Pond Design: The hallmark of an iconic symbol is its ability to communicate a wider concept and, when it comes to communities, being a unifier. Another quality is its innate resilience (e.g. an arrow can be drawn in a thousand ways yet still be recognized as an arrow). We worked with these aspects to find a way to express both unity, personality and uniqueness.

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What was the most challenging part of this project?

Pond Design: To find the right expression and transfer it to the bottle in a way that would look and feel as genuine and honest as possible.

How did you create the flag to feel as if it’s been newly painted and sprayed on the bottle?

Pond Design: To select the right design, we looked for a combination of excitement (interesting and unique), technical feasibility (ability to be reproduced so it would feel as it was actually painted directly on the glass). The paintings were scanned at very high resolution and later carefully isolated and completely digitally reworked, cautious not to lose the initial hand-painted impression. In the next step, the artworks were screen-printed on the bottle in two steps. It turned out that the different colors required a different screening technique! Screen-printing also resulted in a tactile label, further enhancing the impression of the flag being painted directly on the bottle.

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If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

Pond Design: The way it feels lovingly hand-painted directly on the bottle and thereby expresses individuality, personality and belonging to the LGBT community.

 Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

Pond Design: When working with experimental printing techniques, it’s important that both agency and client have an equally clear understanding of the technical possibilities and limitations of executing the design.

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The Team From Pond Design
Client Director: Fredrik Svalstedt
Product Manager: Niclas Hemlin
Designers: Clas Celsing, Fredrik Bladh, Karin Edström
Copy: Naama Forsrup
In collaboration with: Ardagh & Destrito

In-DepthNatalie Mouradian