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Unitec bottle wins design award, Asia export client

An innovative redesign of the humble beer bottle by Unitec students for O-I New Zealand is currently being produced at commercial scale for exports headed to China and Hong Kong. 

The bottle design, dubbed the ‘Provider’, won silver in the Best New Zealand Design awards on Friday night in the structural packaging category. 

Now graduated Unitec design students Quentin Chan, Xin Wang, Josh Brannan were the design team for the bottle. The country’s largest institute of technology was last year approached by the world’s leading glass bottle manufacturer, O-I to design a new industry bottle specifically aimed at the export of New Zealand craft beers to Asian markets.

“It’s not only New Zealand that has a passion for craft beer. Asia has also developed a taste for these brews with more flavour and personality. And with 11 major countries in the region having a projected combined population of over 3 billion, it’s an unmissable opportunity for Kiwi craft beer producers,” said Bayard Sinnema, O-I New Zealand’s Business Sales Manager. For more information please click on the link   

Unitec also took a Best Design Award, exhibition and temporary structures category, for its Glow@Artweek Auckland architectural structures and light pavilions which showed in Devonport over the weekend. And Unitec graduate Navneet Rattan won a silver award in the student interactive category for a website design.

Birkenhead Brewing Company is the first in New Zealand to fill a production run of the Provider bottles. The firm plans to distribute all its product for international and domestic markets in the design from December 2016.

“We love it and that’s why we’re putting all of our product lines into it,” said Steve Simms of Birkenhead Brewing Company. “Customers love the feel and the look of the bottle.

“We recently took it to China and the unique design was well received. The 888ml was highly regarded as an excellent sharing bottle. Its striking features set it apart from other standard beer bottles – it’s a great selling point.”

Unitec design academic Dr Cris de Groot said the original brief also presented the challenge of this design being an ‘industry’ bottle – glass packaging that is brand agnostic – enabling any craft brewery to fill it with their product and apply their labels.

As part of the students’ research, some set up online forums, chatting with potential consumers in China and South Korea to help shape the design, de Groot said.

The heel of the bottle has embossed text stating “Crafted in New Zealand”, and the bottle’s neck offers consumers the opportunity of enjoying their ale from a vessel with a unique volume of 888ml. Beer in Asia is sold mainly in larger vessels as drinking is a social occasion, where the host will pour the guests glasses using both hands and keep them filled.

In Chinese the number 888 is considered “very lucky/ triple fortune”. The smaller sampling bottle features a 258ml volume, and has similar connotations.

See Thirsty Work TV show on TV3 for a segment on Unitec’s bottle design which aired on Saturday, October 15: