Kellenberger-White creates an identity comprising of 40 different bottles for Tillingham Wines
The studio’s Eva Kellenberger and Sebastian White talk us through their latest project, where each bottle of wine is different from the last.
- Ayla Angelos
- 23 March 2021
A lot can happen in a couple of years, especially if you’re Eva Kellenberger and Sebastian White of aptly named studio Kellenberger-White. Since we last heard from the London-based designers – and just after the opening of the exhibition Being Human at Wellcome Collection, designed with Assemble – they shortly went on to launch many wonderful, zero-waste projects. This includes the King’s Cross Design District brand, a 67-acre scheme using building materials that could be transferred back into the construction site. Then in late 2019, they designed the exhibition Cars: Accelerating the Modern World at the V&A alongside architects OMMX; developed sand-cast aluminium signage for Assemble’s residency project at V&A Dundee; and they were selected as the graphic designers for The Garden of Privatised Delights, by British Pavillion for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia – which is set to open in May.
“So the year before the pandemic was a busy one,” Sebastian tells It’s Nice That. “But when the first lockdown started, a number of projects were paused, postponed or even cancelled. Zak Group’s campaign Culture is not Cancelled rang true. It’s been a year of tremendous political upheavals and reckonings: Black Lives Matter, Brexit negotiations, the US election, the climate crisis, data security scandals… we need to find space and ways to come together again, to reflect and regroup.”
In this regard, much of Kellenberger-White’s recent projects have evolved around working with cultural institutions and brands. A move enacted to better understand brands’ missions and responsibilities, this means the studio’s ethos has steered more towards strategies, working on visual identities, type designs and websites.
One of the most recent undertakings is a project for Tillingham Wines, a 70-acre farm and winery that’s been in use since the 13th century. The project was conceived after Ben Walgate, co-founder of the company, reached out to the studio in 2017. “Ben wanted us to develop the brand from the inside out,” explains Eva, noting how the project grew from a series of conversations into a studio visit at the farm in East Sussex. “Ben learned more about our studio, the way we work, our interest in making and processes; we, in turn, learned how he made wine and his plans for developing the land and the place.” A huge transformation was about to take place, which was to coincide with an updated identity system that turned away from the typical wine narrative: “It was going to be a brand about the enjoyment of making, taking risks and living in a conscientious way.”
To reflect this shift in attitude, it wasn’t just the website and identity that needed a re-think – the wine bottles did too. Kellenberger-White dived right into designing the PN17, a “bright rosé” that’s packaged in a clear glass, chosen to let the wine colour protrude the bottle. Opting for simple hand-drawn lettering that’s screen printed in blue, the packaging shuns all traditional preconceptions of what a wine bottle might be. “Blue is almost never used in food and wine, but it worked,” says Sebastian, who points out how the numbers use the studio’s font with a “beautiful curve” at the stem. After this first bottle design, they went on to create many more. 40 in total, this includes ATHINGMILL, another key favourite of the designer’s, is a celebratory bottle marking the year’s produce. “The bottle is so big it looks almost unfamiliar and strange. Ben blended everything he made in that year into one bottle; it’s crazy, it’s quite delicious.”
Oftentimes, packaging and labels tend to be repetitive. Each would commonly signify the brand and the product, arranged in matching uniforms in order to be as recognisable as possible. Well, for this project, Kellenberger-White worked a different technique into the identity and decided to develop separate labels for each bottle of wine. “We look at the labels as a growing, plural collection of experiments,” says Eva. “Each one is simple, but together that produces a rich breadth. This would be difficult to achieve if you made a design series each time.” Each bottle is a project in its own right, drawn from a library of hand-made custom fonts that’s taken from its internal KW font library – an archive in the works since the studio launched in 2009.
In fact, the project is so disparate that the only consistent element Tillingham logo stamp. The studio designed with scale, layout and format in mind as the key defining (and repeating) factors, meanwhile colours, typography and visuals all took various forms. “Some are designed digitally while others are made from a wood carving, ripping up paper or developing a new marbled paper to represent the intricate ‘galaxy-like’ textures of a yeast film Flor,” explains Sebastian, with Flor being the thin layer of yeast that sits on the surface of the wine. “You might see a sense of ‘groups’ when you see them all together.”
Kellenberger-White have cracked the all-impending question of how to create a unifying brand, all the while attaining the unique, individual elements within. And when it comes to designing wine, the result is an utterly fresh take on your usual offering. “There is so much wine sold in the world, much of it looks and tastes quite similar,” concludes Eva. “There are common bottle shapes, and the actual colour of wine rarely looks distinctive – the label is one of the critical moments to explore, change and communicate differently.”
GalleryKellenberger White: Tillingham Wines (Copyright © Thomas Adank, 2021)
Kellenberger White: Tillingham Wines (Copyright © Thomas Adank, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she became online editor in 2022 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.