Spring 2014

Process and poetry

Stranger & Stranger and Fernando Gutiérrez tell Paul Keers about the ways in which bottles and labels communicate the intangible (and occasionally imaginary) character of wine and spirits

‘Consider this,’ says Kevin Shaw, founder and creative director of Stranger & Stranger, a design company specialising in alcoholic drinks, ‘there are 6000 California Pinot Noirs to choose from and, to the average consumer, they all taste pretty much the same and they come in the same shaped bottle. They all have the same innocuous copy on the back label and, although some are ten times more expensive than others, you can’t taste the product before you buy it to know if there’s any real difference. We have to make people pick up a bottle without tasting it, in a sea of competition and often at a price premium. And if we don’t succeed, we’re fired. It’s a brutal discipline.’


VML Californian Pinot Noir label. Design: Stranger & Stranger, 2009. Modern wines, in contrast to spirits, remain in traditional bottles, so the label must create all the interest. That can be done with stark simplicity or with intriguing complexity. The VML label draws upon the arcane, almost mystical complexities of biodynamic winemaking.
Top: Jack Daniel’s Unaged Tennessee Rye. Design: Stranger & Stranger, 2012.


Paul Keers, writer, co-founder of the Sediment wine blog, London

Read the full version in Eye no. 87 vol. 22 2014

EYE87 Cover

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. You can see what Eye 87 looks like at Eye before You Buy on Vimeo.

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