Harpers Design Awards 2022

Harpers Design Awards

Here at Ellis Wines, we are proud to have an in-house creative team to create bespoke wine lists and other design requirements. We also have a program of refreshing old label designs and developing labels for new products where our buying team have sourced exclusive products for us. Having control over the sourcing and packaging of some of our products can help us to maintain price, quality and ensure sustainability is high on the agenda. 

With that being said, we are pleased to announce that three of our labels, designed by Senior Graphic Designer, Maria Blackstone have been awarded a silver medal in Harpers Design Awards 2022.

The three awarded wines are Contrade Bellusa Catarratto and Contrade Bellusa Nero d’Avola from Sicily, Italy and Renosterbos Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa. 

Here is an insight from Maria, on how she goes about the label design process and a bit of background on the story of these labels.

"No two projects are alike of course but there are a few techniques I find work well for me when I embark on a label design. Firstly, I’ll brainstorm around the name of the wine or, if that is still to be decided, look into cultural or geographical elements which might spark some ideas. I will create some visual mood boards for a few different concepts and make some rough sketches. This then gives me an idea of which ones might be worth pursuing further. Once a few ideas begin to crystallise, I develop the graphic elements in tandem with potential typefaces. The typeface can reflect and complement the design concept and in many cases add a significant amount of character and impact to the design. Once a handful of concepts are worked up, it is time for them to see the light of day as I present them to the team for discussion and feedback. Once our chosen route is decided, it is time to refine the design and get it prepared for print, including thinking about paper stocks, special finishes and capsule colours.

The idea behind the Contrade Bellusa labels come from the popular ceramic Moorish Heads or Teste di Moro. These beautiful ceramic head pots often have blooming plants growing inside. The legend of the Moorish head goes back to the XI century, during the Moors domination in Sicily. 

One day, a beautiful and honorable young girl living in the Kalsa, the arabic district of Palermo, was taking care of plants and flowers in the balcony of her house. Suddenly, a Moor merchant who was passing by, fell in love with the beautiful girl who immediately returned his love. Their romance blossomed until she discovered he already had a wife and children waiting for him in his native land. She went crazy with jealousy and one night, while he was sleeping she thought of a way to make him stay with her forever! She  cut off his head and cleverly decided to use it as a vase to grow her beautiful basil plant. People walking down her balcony started looking at her flourishing plant of basil and became jealous of how bountiful her plants were, so they began to forge colourful clay heads pots wishing to have the same magic green thumb.

I chose to create a headdress depicting the flavour profiles found in the wines. These were bright in colour, playful and contrasted well with the monochrome head. Comments from the judges describe these designs as ‘eye-catching’ and having a ‘great use of textures and finishes’ with a ‘great story’.

The Renosterbos label, sits under ‘The Impressionist’ brand. A range where we can be more creative, and artistic with the labels. I looked at different areas in South Africa, and after doing some research I stumbled across a plant native to South Africa called Renosterbos or Rhinoceros Bush. This plant turns black when it rains. It inspired me to create the graphics using ink and a straw to create a natural, organic looking plant-like graphic. I paired this with bronze foil to give it a more premium feel. Comments from the judges describe these designs as ’simple’ and ‘impactful’ with a ’nice story’. 

I am so pleased to have been awarded these medals, and will continue to learn and grow with my future label projects. Next time, I will go for gold!"

To view the category winners visit: Harpers Design Awards