Leave it to our friends at Stranger & Stranger to take wine to a whole new level of elegant playfulness ~ making us lust after the life the bottle teases at before we even figure out what type of wine it is. Remember last Christmas’s No. 13 they sent out? It seems that the idea for this line of Truett Hurst wines for Safeway packaged by Stranger & Stranger took its inspiration from No. 13! Kevin Shaw, the founder and Creative Director, says “ The added real estate that the over sleeve gives us has allowed us to engage with people in a way that a tiny back label never can. Everyone just wants to pick up and read these packs.” Apparently “Stranger identified 22 niches and buying occasions that might benefit from enhanced packaging and developed a patented bottle sleeve that contains everything from quotes to recipes.” I had no idea you could patent the bottle sleeve resembling the brown paper bag look of the prohibition era ~ but it will be intriguing to see how this wine packaging shift infiltrates other packaging designs as we wander the aisles at the market! See more bottles and lots of close ups on the next page!
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Leave it to the packaging geniuses at London/NY based Stranger & Stranger to manage to bottle up Holiday Spirit! Remember last year’s absolutely stunning No 12. Christmas Absinthe? (And they are also the design masterminds behind packaging like the Kraken!) This year they’ve taken to Spirit No. 13 ~ in proper brown bagged style, rubber band and all… and the ads are hilarious. And that’s before you even get in to the very detailed apothecary styled label inside! Take a look at all of the amazing details on the next page…
Stranger & Stranger, you’ve outdone yourselves once again. Following their Holiday Spirits of the past few years, “to celebrate the year we broke out of our alcohol comfort zone and designed premium olive oils, fine foods, luxury luggage, and just plain crazy new stuff, we teamed up with the amazing Dan & Dave to create this, our Ultimate Deck.” And broke out of their alcohol they did! Previously, anyone who asked me for suggestions on alcohol packaging, i undoubtedly told them, Stranger & Stranger! Well it sounds like it has been quite the year for the incredible design group… and these cards (no surprise) are STUNNING, down to the tiniest of details! From the matte black magnetic box… to the velvety pouches… to the festive ambigram… to the seal on the deck… to the gilded edges of the deck… to the artwork adorning each card… it’s a magnificent deck of cards! And the quality is incredible, as are all Dan & Dave cards (like the awesome Fulton’s Clip Joint Playing Cards we wrote about previously)… take a peek at all the incredible details of Stranger & Stranger’s Ultimate Deck on the next page!
The latest from London-based editor and resident zoologist, Justine Aw.
We love seeing the use of antiquarian-inspired images that reference natural history engravings; and pairing these designs with packaging seems to be on the rise (e.g. recent release of Zubrowka’s beautiful illustrated packaging). So we were very excited to see the latest from Stranger & Stranger, the team behind the recently featured wine packaging as they created this stunning packaging for The Entertainer, a limited edition blended Scotch whisky from Compass Box.
Taking inspiration (and flavor combinations) from the turn of the 20th century, the beautiful packaging created in collaboration with London artist Peter Blake, takes a similarly beautiful and quirky antiquarian approach and includes so many details we love. It’s got London architecture, complex geometry, and all sorts of wild creatures from moths and butterflies to lionfish and octopi! The limited edition packaging and whisky are extremely limited, but currently still available at Selfridges (and online here). More photos of this gorgeous packaging on the next page!
Sometimes that Christmas Spirit, comes in a bottle. Apparently for 2010, that was true. And the spirit came in the form of the Green Fairy. And it is delicious, and beautifully packaged, courtesy of Stranger & Stranger… it’s not enough that they make some of the most beautiful alcohol packaging around, every year for the last 12 years, they have also sent out a special Christmas Spirit, and i sip this year’s absinthe as i write this post. It’s delicious. Absinthe handmade in a single batch, not available for purchase… It is deliciously beautiful! When a bottle says “After one glass, you see things as you wish they were.” how can you resist? “Nectar, bitter-sweet - like the last kiss on the lips of a discarded mistress, is the secret charm of my existence; green as the moon’s light on a forest pool it glimmers in my glass; eagerly i quaff it, and, as i drink, i dream.” Marie Corelli, 1890.
See the close ups on the next page, and a very merry christmas to you!
Hangar 1 Vodka has always been deliciously, locally, hand-made in… a hangar in Alameda, CA! And to celebrate their stunning redesign (beautiful new scientific/graduated cylinder feeling bottle complete with rubber stopper by Stranger & Stranger!), they’ve sent over a Tasting Tour in a BOX! (designed by Dead As We Know It!) Inside the box is a peek into the world Hangar 1 vodka comes from via postcards and a fun booklet ~ of course, there’s one of the new vodka bottles and dropper bottles of the various flavors ~ and a pipette! The pipette is clearly marked for “cocktails” and not marked for “shots”, but naturally we had to try tasting from it… take a peek at the hand-made vodka deliciousness and the beautiful packaging details all on the next page!
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!)...
Ryan McGinness Studios is throwing 50 Parties. 50 Themes. 50 Weeks. In a row. In the studio. No sponsors. No strangers. My favorite part? NO STRANGERS! Unfortunately i'm pretty sure i'm a stranger. BUT those magical invite cards are "valid for card holder +1". Do you have one? Can i be your +1 someday?
All in all its such a lovely concept, and so similar to salon/intellectuallly playful get togethers i've been tossing around with friends... yes, i know. McGinness DID IT. I have not. But someday i hope to organize, or find help to organize enough to do some too! Here's how he explains it, "In New York City, there has never been a shortage of parties. Parties celebrating a new product or publication or development have been rampant. Those celebrating or nurturing a meaningful social exchange, on the other hand, have been noticeably absent." So far Party 00 was the Practice Party, and coming up is the Whit Trash BBQ. Yes, you read that right. The 50 Parties project has its own blog, Twitter, and YouTube feed. Not that any of those should surprise you at all. See more pics of the goodness on the next page...
i've been a huge McGinness fan long before i started NOTCOT... so jealous to hear about friends who have been getting invites already!
My highlight of this year’s show was almost certainly The Westland Magical Garden designed by Diarmuid Gavin. The enormous structure is over seven stories high and home to over 3,000 plants. From the ground, it simply looks like an overwhelming fortress, a tangle of greenery and scaffolding from below, but is home to so many treasures and makes stunning use of the space and views! It is seven stories of surprises! Above all, it remains playful with swings, ludic furniture and an incredible slide all the way to the ground from the fifth floor!
So i came home the other day, and the mailman had left this bizarre black bag at the door. Puzzled but curious - my first thought was really, WOW what efficient shipping- a simple, black canvasy rectangle of a bag with a zip along the top, and the handles had just been tied (see below). And the labels were just slapped on there. Talk about not wasting any materials to send it over.
Turns out it was a CHAIRBAG. You've been seeing it around all the design sites lately, designed by PS Labs of Amsterdam... part buoy, part bouncy kids chair, part giant workout ball, and definite design icon in the making. So thus begins my adventures with the Chairbag, and below is my extensive review with more pics. [also click the pic above to see larger]
On random NOTCOT firsts ~ i’ve never watched a guy get fitted for a shirt ~ while sipping Bushmills + Ginger Ale with cookies. Shopping Fred Segal tonight, popped by the Seize sur Vingt event to take a peek at the new Fall/Winter 2011 collection of bespoke shirts made of amazing feeling italian fabrics… Fun detail to note? These may be the perfect shirts for anyone who loves Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” ~ as the names for the various patterns in the previous and current collections are named after phrases from the song. From British Beatlemania and Foreign Debts to Joe DiMaggio and Pope Paul Malcom X to Strangers in a Strange Land and Watergate Punk Rock. While the link between color/pattern and naming didn’t seem clear to me, i do wonder if there is a secret visual code that will emerge when you place the patterns (or overlap the swatches) in lyrical order… Take a peek at the event, the details, and some of our favorite patterns on the next page! (… as well as the music video with lyrics and corresponding shirts linked!)
The latest dose of natural inspiration from our resident zoologist and London-based editor, Justine Aw.
Incubating your own eggs is something a lot of kids get to do in school, but something I’ve never actually done myself, so I was very excited to get the chance to incubate our own little brood! It was a fantastic birthday-present of sorts with a borrowed incubator and permanent home in the country all lined up.
I’ve always been fascinated by livestock breeds, so we’d thought a lot about what types of breeds we’d be after (those considering poultry in the UK, but confused about breeds should make a trip down to the incredible Domestic Fowl Trust). With a few favorites in mind, we were happy to find a few local breeders and picked up 6 Wyandotte hatching eggs (3 silver-laced and 3 gold-laced). We documented their 21 day journey from eggs to chick and hope you enjoy their journey as well as a live stream of the chicks as they grow over the next week or two! See it all on the next page!
Oscars are this weekend, and to celebrate, Mercedes-Benz have us playing in Hollywood to celebrate the 60 years of the SL... which has been featured in more movies and tv shows over the years than i could imagine! (Don't worry, there's a massive "selection" listed on the next page!) To catch us up on the history in person, we headed to Warner Brothers' studio to see the SL@Hollywood exhibition taking us through the decades, which was popped up in one of their warehouses... complete with hollywood stars on the ground highlighting films the SL has been featured in. Take a peek at the fun exhibition and stunning cars on the next page...