` The Art of Olive Oil: Greek Package Designs Draw from Deep Cultural Roots

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The Art of Olive Oil: Greek Package Designs Draw from Deep Cultural Roots

Feb. 29, 2016
By Lisa Radinovsky

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Gift shops at Greek muse­ums and archae­o­log­i­cal sites, accord­ing to Kathimerini, are prepar­ing to sell items that fea­ture con­tem­po­rary ver­sions of ancient art works. A new inter­pre­ta­tion of the Minoan Snake God­dess is also appear­ing in an unex­pected place: an olive oil pack­age.

Work­ing on an olive oil con­tainer for NYIOOC award-win­ning pro­ducer Great Sto­ries, a new pre­mium Greek food com­pany in Athens, 2yolk graphic design­ers cre­ated sim­ple black line draw­ings inspired by ancient Minoan, Cycladic, and Archaic god­dess stat­ues.

Accord­ing to the Greek Foun­da­tion, 2yolk design­ers adopted these cul­tures’ use of a woman’s fig­ure to sig­nify the Great Mother,’ a sym­bol of fer­til­ity, rebirth and con­tin­u­a­tion of life – con­cepts iden­ti­fied with the sus­tain­abil­ity of the Greek land,” and the con­ti­nu­ity of Greek olive vari­eties over thou­sands of years.

2yolk also came up with the name 39/22” for the company’s four dif­fer­ent mono­va­ri­etal Greek extra vir­gin olive oils — Atheno­lia, Man­aki, Koroneiki, and organic Koroneiki. The numer­i­cal name refers to Greece’s geo­graph­i­cal coor­di­nates, empha­siz­ing the olive’s ori­gin in the earth.

For this design and nam­ing project, 2yolk won a Red Dot Award for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Design in 2015 at the inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion in Berlin where it com­peted with over 17,000 entries from 17 coun­tries.

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Another Red Dot Award win­ner was inspired by olive oil pro­duc­ers’ strong bonds with nature,” each other, and their Greek moth­er­land, as the Greek Foun­da­tion web­site says. Lazy Snail Design illus­trated these bonds with a draw­ing of a tree whose branches end in olive leaves made up of each producer’s name, both in white on a black bot­tle or five-liter tin, and in black on a white tin.

Lazy Snail designed this for Bienna (or Vienna) extra vir­gin olive oil, the brand of the Vian­nos Coop­er­a­tive Asso­ci­a­tion in the Pro­tected Des­ig­na­tion of Ori­gin (PDO) of Vian­nos in south­east­ern Crete. The Red Dot web site sug­gests that the result is a tree rem­i­nis­cent of a fin­ger­print. This acts as a sig­na­ture ver­i­fy­ing the authen­tic­ity of the prod­uct, as well as a sym­bolic hand­shake between the hand that holds the bot­tle and the one that picked the olive from the tree.”

Kizis Studio’s Red Dot Award-win­ning design for Ladolea’s unfil­tered mono­va­ri­etal Megar­i­tiki, Patrinia, and Koroneiki extra vir­gin olive oil comes in a reusable hand­made ceramic pot that pre­vents light pen­e­tra­tion, thus main­tain­ing its con­tents in its purest form, aroma and taste,” as the Greek Foun­da­tion web­site indi­cates. Ladolea’s Megar­i­tiki is a 2015 NYIOOC award win­ner.

For Ladolea’s bot­tle, Kizis Stu­dio updated an ancient Corinthian pot, the Ary­bal­los, which was used to hold the olive oil Olympic ath­letes spread all over their bod­ies before the ancient games. Each Ladolea bot­tle is hand­made by a pot­ter for Melissi & Co, which pro­vides a cork pourer so the bot­tle can be reused.

Thomas Kiourt­sis used a more mod­ern design with the con­trast­ing tex­tures of white glass and nat­ural wood for a lim­ited edi­tion of Koronaki’s extra vir­gin olive oil. The Greek Foun­da­tion calls the rec­tan­gu­lar box shape with small black let­ter­ing and design sim­ple, clean and sharp,” sug­gest­ing Kiourt­sis sought to delin­eate the sim­plic­ity and purity of olive oil.”

Chris Triv­izas also used a sim­ple, sleek con­trast of mate­ri­als for the Andri­o­tis Company’s Kopos extra vir­gin olive oil, select­ing the Greek word for toil” for the product’s name to high­light the hard work that goes into its pro­duc­tion. Kopos olive oil comes in a black cylin­dri­cal bot­tle whose smooth sim­plic­ity leads the eye to the ele­gant nat­ural grain of olive wood in its large, strik­ing lid.

The con­tainer designs are fea­tured on the web­site of the Greek Foun­da­tion, which aims to explore and rede­fine the Greek­ness of things” by show­cas­ing all forms of cre­ative expres­sion” from con­tem­po­rary Greek cul­ture.

The designs make it clear that Greek extra vir­gin olive oil is even more than a tasty, healthy prod­uct. It takes hard work, knowl­edge, and ded­i­ca­tion to pro­duce high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil. Increas­ing num­bers of Greek pro­duc­ers have decided the results of their efforts deserve to look — as well as taste — like a work of art.


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