Downtown Urban Winery Brand Creation

the Labelmaker

Sofia, Bulgaria,

Design: the Labelmaker
Printer: Daga Printing House
Location: United States
Project Type: Produced
Client: Downtown Urban Winery
Product Launch Location: United States
Packaging Contents: Wine
Packaging Substrate / Materials: Glass bottle
Printing Process: High build varnish, serigraphy, gold hot foil, microembossing, soft touch laminate

The Story
Like many of my projects this one started with a phone call from Vesselin. I knew about his project already by a very dear friend of mine who recommended me and my work to Vesselin. They are a team of 4. They have own vineyards and they have a small craft winery based at Sliven city center. The building they renovated has been used for more than 30 years for carpentry workshop run by Vesselin’s Grandfather. So much about the story and history – 4 friends, city center location, old carpentry, craft wines, own vineyards – probably couldn’t be more interesting!

The Name
Initially I started to think of a wise and respectful name, then when I thought more carefully I said to myself – Hey, these guys have so unique story, it would be petty if you don’t use it! I decided to focus on their location, the carpentry – all those things that are so unique about them – and this is how the name came out. Located in the downtown of Sliven means only one thing – this is a downtown winery! All true. I first wanted to name it Downtown Sliven Winery, but then I decided to replace ‘Sliven’ with more fashionable word ‘urban’ and my final proposal was Downtown Urban Winery. There were plenty of other ideas we discussed with Vesselin but this one particularly was very clear, very true and also very memorable for the audience so we decided to use it.

The Logo
The brand name creation and logo design for me were actually one workflow. Once I get clear idea how to name the winery I was 100% decided how to proceed with the logo design in order to create a short version of this long unique story. Being said so the winery name was already done and I wanted to focus on logotype. I was looking for a very recognizable image related with carpentry and woodwork. First I thought about a logo based on workshop building but ditched this idea very quickly. Then I stumbled upon an idea to create logo and label based on saw image. I even designed them but never showed them to my client. Then I started looking for something both related to woodwork and refinement.

From that moment I decided to focus on smoothing plane. It was the perfect choice as it has very recognizable common silhouette; looking simple but memorable and it was one of those hand-tools used for precise wood smoothing.

I then took a thorough search through Stanley database and I was really inspired by they smoothing planes. From that moment on my task was even more clear and I started to create the Downtown logo based on own smoothing plane silhouette trying to keep things simple and recognizable.

The Label
Like always label was the most interesting part to me. It is exciting to design a wine label after you have already created winery name and a logo. The label is the place where all these elements unite and start to live as a family.

I always try to create very memorable labels, ones that carry special message, ones that really stand out. The most unique thing in this project from my point of view was the winery location. Usually wineries are in the vineyards or somewhere close around them. What we had here was an unique exception and I wanted to use it in my wine label design. Sliven is a small town in Bulgaria and its urban landscape is dominated with classic small houses with traditional roofs. Being located close to one another in combination with narrow streets and small yards creates a specific crowded atmosphere which I decided to use. I did dozens of very basic naive sketches of houses on my Ipad, very similar to the ones I did on paper when I was a kid. What made my houses special and different was that I found a way how to intersect one house with another an thus to create different artistic elements which brought my simple picture to life and also reflecting this crowded feeling I mentioned above.

The outlined silhouettes of all houses were printed with black and overprinted with high build raised varnish to make them shine and reflect the light. I also added a solid element printed with hot foil going from the rooftops towards the top right corner of the label. This element was very important because it was stamped with different hot foil to make the color difference between each of the wines inside the range. Additionally – and this is something I feel very happy and proud of – I decided to make this hot foil figure even more interesting without being annoying and competitive to the houses illustration. I decided to modify the composition with the houses and by using micro-embossing effect to implement it inside the hot foil. Micro-embossing creates unique and delicate engraving effects on the surface of the foil making it reflect the light in different angles. So when you get the bottle in your hands these reflections start to work and you begin to see this hidden cityscape inside the foil.

The Result
Downtown was very exhausting but also absolutely interesting and challenging project. Starting from ground zero and finishing with brand naming, logo design and finished wine label was and will always be an Olympic marathon to me. I love request like that.

What I was really aiming at in this project was to create something very recognizable and memorable and at the same time I was looking for a way to use simplicity and transform it into rich complexity.

The wine label is the final element of this process where all other elements meet. I played with high contrast, solid foil reflection and amazing paper material that helped me create unique harmony of colors and embellishments. Printing this design was a real challenge too and it took me a lot of time & efforts together with Daga Print team to bring every single detail to absolute perfection. The result is a label that shines out with own beauty and character – a true reflection of the Downtown Urban Winery story.

I still keep it on my desk and enjoy it every time I see it.