The Art of Olive Oil: Greek Package Designs Draw from Deep Cultural Roots
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.
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.
by Lisa Radinovsky