Absolut Icebar!!! I’ve always been curious, i’m still dying to visit the Ice Hotel some day ~ and ironically, this little excursion wasn’t even part of the official Absolut event/weekend. Apparently the Icebar changes its design twice a year, and it happened to be closed Oct 26 to Nov 1, so today was the first day it reopened, but, just barely! (Opening party is tomorrow night!) Luckily, i was able to stay an extra day, and they managed to get us in today. So here is a first look at the latest ~ “Factory” designed by Sofi Ruotsalainen and Nille Nilsson. Along with the completely new space, there is also a brand new menu! It’s quite amazing, you enter through the little store passageway where you see racks of ponchos with gloves clipped on… then into the airlock… and into the ice bar! Within the ice bar (which is literally wall to wall ice) there are ice sculptures, an ice display (looking like an upright arcade game), the bar and more… the giant red “Don’t Push” button - is totally ok to push. As long as you’re cool with the light flashing! (So fun!) Also playful are some of the Icebar goods ~ you can buy a replica glass (that won’t melt!), a puffy jacket of a laptop sleeve, matches, and other silliness… This is one of three Absolut Icebars ~ the first was in the Ice Hotel, this one is in the Nordic Sea Hotel and is open year round, as is the one in Below Zero London. See all the fun on the next page, as cold as my fingers got, i couldn’t help taking a bunch of pics, and they even let me take pics from behind the bar!
While i seldom do party pics, i’m fascinated by Absolut and the way they brand experiences so nicely… This was their big 30th Anniversary Party for the Art Collection… and the lighting in the giant black cube they constructed for the party next to the Lydmar Hotel was this ominous mysterious structure that popped up while we were staying there, and they wouldn’t let us peek in until the event itself… so once in there with such cool lighting and visualizations and bands/djs playing… the pictures of the bar, the bottles and glasses, the scene, and the straws even! I just had to share! The colors came out so beautifully!
Also ~ i ran out tonight (day after the party) but was a bit too late to get black cube pics, however did get some very cool mid-deconstruction pics! If you see the pics on the next page, just imagine that covered in black…
Sometimes you desperately run around the city all evening, desperately hunting for an open restaurant after having two drinks at the ice bar for “breakfast”, almost genuinely considering buying 7-11 food, tweet for help, call for suggestions, and almost everything that comes up is closed… then you stumble upon the adorable red cozy outdoor section of Grodan, and peek into a stunningly ornate dining room that smells delicious… and there it is. Froggies! Everywhere! On the menu… embroidered on the napkins, on the door - a simple red silhouette of a frog! (Yes, i now know Groda means Frog in swedish)… but the most intriguing instance of this little red frog i encountered was as i sipped my water… there it was on the bottom of my glass! And it looked so fun with its reflection and prismatic colors projected on the table… I had to share… and i’m so tempted to make mini vinyl stickers to apply to the bottom of my glasses to surprise people when i get home… see more of the pics on the next page!
On awesome design that they clearly had far too much (or just enough?) fun with… how cool is this Yelp Elite Metal Lunchbox and Thermos?!?!?! In fact, Michael Ernst, an ex-Yelp-team-er who worked on the design project and sent this awesome gift over even took that main picture up top ~ emailing, “I actually went to a gravel pit in my tiny hometown of Minocqua and asked if I could shoot this there. The guy who ran it was utterly confused at my request. I wanted it to look like another planet.” ~ how coudl i not use the pic after a story like that??? So take a peek at more close ups on the next page ~ its the details that will really get you chuckling at your screen…
The Kraken Rum: How can you NOT drink from a bottle that says “As seen through the eyes of imagination”… such a lovely description, also any bottle that has Bizarre & Fierce Sea Creatures on it is just hard to deny. You’ve seen the unboxing of the incredible packaging, design, and other goodies (like Kraken teeth in vials, ink in bottles, etc)… and now for close ups on the actual Kraken Rum bottle design from Kevin Shaw of Stranger and Stranger… The amazing thing i love to watch is putting it in unsuspecting hands, the bottle has presence! It’s hard not to pick it up, slip two fingers through the holes, and then suddenly while rotating and reading the label ~ the bottle jokingly raises up to your lips as if you are going to chug it… and many make sounds channeling their inner rum drinking Johnny Depp a la Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s happened more than once. I love how an object such as a mere bottle of rum through design and packaging can evoke such a delightful user experience! So take a peek at the packaging design and graphic details on the next page ~ The Kraken Rum is definitely a perfect gift if you need a sippable conversation starter to bring to a party (and loosen people up in more ways than one ~ it’s 94 proof!)…
Ok, Kraken. The rum. It’s amazing, beautiful branding and design all around, also delicious, but first things first, we aren’t going to even talk about the bottle yet… first i have to show you the most mind-blowingly cool package i received and actually shot over lunch on my whirlwind 36 hours in NY (now curled up in Oxford in a tiny B&B writing to you!)… So, just before hopping in a cab to hit the airport, popped over to Boqueria in flatiron for a lunch “meeting” ~ and am presented with a stunningly printed cardboard box sealed with the coolest kraken of a sea creature seal in a silver plastic and black satin ribbon. As i slowly pull it all apart… there’s a note addressed in calligraphy to “My Esteemed Colleague”, silhouettes of the objects of proof held within this magical box of goodies printed within the box, custom printed wrapping paper (that i want for gift wrapping! everything?), a brilliant little book, a limited edition (of 50!) poster, a black feather and a pot of Kraken Ink, a disc of films, a Kraken tooth in a corked glass vial, and a disc of films… OH, and a bottle of The Kraken black spiced rum, of course.
Leave it to Dead As We Know It and Proximo Spirits to take things so above and beyond that i’m embarrassingly sipping rum over lunch, picking at delectable tapas, shooting pictures, and having a complete giddy sensory overload at how cool every aspect of The Kraken branding is… while trying to hold a proper conversation with two of the most fascinating guys you’ll meet. This meal has pretty much set the bar rather high for future “meetings” and “photoshoots”… So, before i get even more distracted, go take a peek at the unboxing of the Kraken and some of the delicious Boqueria food!
Remember those 1800 Tequila Essential Artist bottles? (I also showed you the close ups of the real things - even more stunning than in pics!) Well, at the time of the first collection launching, there was also a contest where you could submit your designs to be a part of the second collection… well the winners have been announced! And the bottles are just starting to make their way out into the real world! They are AWESOME (not that i would expect any less from 1800 Tequila after their great pick of designs the first time around)… 12 Limited Edition Bottle Designs Including one from Shepard Fairey’s Studio Number One… so if you’re ready, take a peek at the winners and a little background info on them on the next page… Also, beautiful video embedded on the next page animating and showing off all of the new designs, which is a definite must see! Can’t wait to see these in person!
HUGE congrats to all of the winners ~ and to creative agency, Dead As We Know It for another stunning job.
On stunning bottles, i couldn’t resist this G&J Greenall’s Bloom Gin ~ beautiful color, gorgeous silhouette, particularly from the side! Found it at Liberty in London when we were late night wandering, while waiting for a table in Soho for dinner… The other random note ~ who knew! The bathroom in the St. James Hotel and Club would be so incredible for taking backlit snapshots of the bottle?!?! And slightly disappointing note on packaging, that nice black extruded part on the neck? Just a sticker… As for the taste, its quite refreshingly delicious - the Bloom Gin website describes it as “… a new romantic twist to the world of gin. With its ornate jewel-cut bottle, Bloom’s fresh flavour offers a strikingly smooth, soft taste. This triple distilled gin uses demineralised fresh spring water and natural botanicals for its flavour. Created from juniper, chamomile, pomelo and honeysuckle it offers a light, refreshing experience rounded with subtle notes of honey and orange. Bloom — a new gin to be enjoyed by lovers of nature.” Definitely yummy ~ and will look stunning on any shelf. Take a look at the details on the next page!
Far more exciting than design week, everywhere i went i heard “You HAVE to go get ice cream at Selfridges!”… which seemed bizarre until i found out about the Icecreamists, and now i must tell you, “You HAVE to go get ice cream at Selfridges!” Before i get into the space and concept itself though, their The Infamous Sex Pistol Ice Cream deserved a post all on its own… “Natural stimulants & Absinthe Ice Cream. A classic Fior di Latte or Milk Ice Cream blended with Ginkgo Biloba, Arginine and Guarana for blood flow and energy. Scented with a gentle infusion of citrus zest. Topped with a shot of La Fee Absinthe. Strictly only one per person. Served with a complimentary Icecreamist badge.” The London Paper deemed this the “Viagra Ice Cream”… but realizing that the absinthe was served out of an iv drip, i simply HAD to order it. Also, this ended up being breakfast with a friend, so a little pick me up didn’t help before a full day of shopping in the saturday high street crowds. To take a look at the process and the cocktail itself, check out the pics on the next page! More to come on The Icecreamists soon!
and while i don’t normally love absinthe, this was rather delicious…
Ok on aspects of this trip that i shamelessy geeked out on… did you know that’s how champagne corks start? Before they get mushroomed? And the machine that mushroomifies them and puts the cage on is really cool? (Cool enough i had to make a video to share with you of course!) Also, there was definitely a warm fuzzy feeling that overcame me as Veuve Clicquot brought us to visit a tiny (relatively speaking!) grand cru champagne maker ~ Gatinois, a family-run business located in Aÿ since 1696, at the foot of the Montagne de Reims. While they have been selling half their crop to neighbor, Bollinger, they are producing more and more of their own label. It was infectious how passionate Pierre Cheval-Gatinois was as he shared his company’s story and history and process with us (his son is starting to step in as the 12th generation!)… perhaps the biggest contrast was visiting his cellars compared to les creyeres of Veuve Clicquot… the shift in scale was amazing, and you must check out the exposed wires running the lighting (to fry yourself, just reach up and grab one in each hand)… Oh, and also, the amber blush tone of the champagne is gorgeous and it is extremely delicious… but unfortunately it they don’t have a distributor in LA! Anyhow, on the next page you can see lots of pics, and the video of how the corks transform to magically to the mushrooms we associate with champagne!
A winner has been notified… i’m waiting to hear back from him!
I know you’ve always wanted to throw some rocks in your favorite scotch. Chilled perfectly these Teroforma Whisky Rocks are handmade in Vermont out of soapstone will cool your drink down just enough to take the edge off without “closing down” the flavors according to the lovely ladies of Delight.com. In fact, they are even generous enough to GIVE AWAY ONE SET of these WHISKEY STONES! All you have to do is leave a comment with your favorite Scotch/Whisky… be specific! And i’ll pick a winner on Monday Sept 14th.
As for the stones themselves, they come beautifully packaged, and were a lovely reason to pick up a bottle of the highly recommended Balvenie 21yr Portwood (omg. so delicious.) ~ while i wasn’t sure whether they chilled it enough at first, i’ve been enlightened that “They do not replace ice - it would ruin the whisky or any other fine spirits to be taken down to a temp much lower than 45F.” And the only dillemma i’ve run into ~ if you only get 9… and about 4 go in a glass… and you have a drink with a friend… and you want refills… you need more rocks! Right? Anyhow, go take a peek at the pics on the next page!
Packaging based impulse shopping strikes again… This time i gave in and bought the Neurogasm, Neurobliss, Neurosonic, and Neurotrim. This strangely curvy soda bottle has an awesome cap, yet for some reason it kind of feels like it should be a bottle of body wash? Not sure about the flavors yet, but noteworthy packaging… see more details on the next page!
Bodum. There’s something so irresistible about the way they do glass… and now there is even double walled porcelain! And a clear glass stovetop kettle! And planters! And baguette tubes? The 2009 catalog is beautifully laid out too, with cheeky typographic bits… Take a peek at some of my favorite pages on the next page… and view the catalog here.
Prometheus Springs: Capsaicin Spiced Elixir. Firstly, what a mouthful. Secondly, check out their flavors - Lemon Ginger, Lychee Wasabi, and Pomegranate Black Pepper (intriguing aren’t they?) Thirdly, awesome upside down pentagon of 5 stars around a crowned dragon ouroboros encircling what looks like a simplified masonic symbol for a logo (should we read into this? or is it simply a symbolic mashup?)… also beautiful photography and they even have a video of the bottling process! I’m impressed… also amused that most of their websites sections are wordpress - and they are all social media’d out with the facebook, twitter, flickr, vimeo… this occultish NY based drink line has captured my attention tonight… Take a look at more of the visual assets as well as the bottling video on the next page!
Sometimes even more fascinating than packaging design is watching how it evolves and becomes more engaging and usable! Well on packages awaiting when i got back from SDCC - there was a case of these redesigned Activate Drinks. If you recall, i wrote about Activate Drinks about a year ago ~ basically Activate Drinks are the ones that are bottles of water with caps filled with vitamins/flavors, and you turn the cap to “activate” the drink. Shake it and you’re good to go ~ freshly mixed vitamins in water, because apparently vitamins lose their potency in water? Anyhow, take a look at the more ergo-friendly cap and cute droplet box graphics on the next page!