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Seeing Stars, Spirals, and 90s Minimalism

Three wildly different approaches to health-centric beverage branding in this month's Happy Hour

How do you like your drinks? Sustainable? Functional? Merely hydrating? This month’s picks offer more than anyone really needs, but perhaps something you’ll want once that chill in the air brings activities indoors. As summer comes to an end, take comfort in these better-at-home beverages that are made to pour.

Michelle Donnelly: Lark

“So often being eco-friendly means you have to compromise on aesthetics and we wanted to change that,” says Lark co-founder and creative director Michelle Donnelly. The Toronto-based, closed-loop beverage company borrows its “minimalist milkman” business model from well before the 21st century, but its look is on-the-nose modern. The design was done in-house, and its sources of inspiration include “the still life photos of Irving Penn” and “90s minimalism and fashion branding.” The reusable swing-top bottles are sealed with a small-as-can-be, text dense, water soluble label. The alluring colors of the drinks themselves, botanical riffs on familiar flavors like lemonade, ginger ale, and cola made with spring water from Ontario, effectively act as labels. “Using less is better for the planet and so often the same goes for design,” says Donnelly. “The aesthetic is a very pure representation of the philosophy.”

The Refreshment Club: Found Bubbly

Freshly launched mineral water brand Found Bubbly is another addition to the growing trend of agencies developing their own products. The Refreshment Club, the brand’s partner agency, created the bottle and box design. Onur Kece, creative director of both entities, says that the aim was to create something that didn’t draw too much attention away from the “naturally bubbly” water, which comes from a spring in Turkey. Surprisingly, the combination of spiral lettering on a dunce cap shape nails this goal. Who knew? Of course, natural mineral water isn’t a new product. (Humans have been bottling carbonated spring water since the early 17th century). So it’s fair to say that Found Bubbly is, essentially, a millennial Pellegrino. But! Its bottle is quite different, and not just on the surface. It weighs about a third lighter than other glass bottles. 

Kern+Lead: Earth & Star

Erica Huss and Zoe Sakoutis, co-founders of functional mushroom brand Earth & Star, worked with longtime creative partners Kern+Lead to redesign the cans for their line of oat milk lattes. (Huss and Sakoutis’ previous venture, BluePrint, kicked off the juice cleanse of the early 2010s.) Sharpening the design to lead with ingredients as opposed to “creating a cute product name that doesn’t really indicate what’s inside,” the design centers and reorients text that had been vertical, and sticks to one font. For consumers who crave a smooth blend of legible ingredients with somewhat ineffable benefits — which is to say, most — this approach makes sense. The “organic look of the colorways” and “the sense of movement and fluidity in the design,” pairs well with the direct messaging. Sort of like an RX Bar, but with a hint of “superpowers.”

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Happy Hour