oonami

TYPE
research, branding, packaging
TOOLS
Illustrator, Photoshop
DURATION
Oct 2019 – Nov 2019
CHALLENGE
Design a sake bottle that is environmentally friendly and accessible to the Blind
AWARDS
2020 Awards Student Winner
2020 RGD BOLD Award for Accessible Design
OVERVIEW

Oonami —translating to “Big Wave” in Japanese—thrives on its mission to deliver a huge splash of flavour with its traditionally prepared sake, all while keeping in mind usability for all.

In our research phase, we noticed a particular disconnect between liquor brands, consideration of the environment, and accessibility for the Blind. As a result, we incorporated Braille into the bottle and box designs of the brand. Additionally, every environment-friendly box of Oonami sake is accompanied with a pack of flower seeds to plant in the bottle after finishing its delicious content, giving it a second life as a vase. The use of circle imagery and line art portray a traditional Japanese aesthetic whilst using a minimalistic and monochromatic black on white design maintains a sense of modernity. Resultantly, the design approach is innovative for its category and our minimalistic visual solution allows to separate Oonami from its competitors on the shelf.

Branding and packaging design for an environmentally friendly sake brand (Oonami) designed to be accessible to the Blind. There are three distinct flavours: Nigori, Awa sake, and Umeshu (from left to right).
PROBLEM

When walking down the aisle at a liquor store, it is apparent that a disconnect exists between the environment, the Blind, and alcoholic drinks.

Despite using the usual glass bottles, liquor brands do not actively encourage any actions to be made for the environment. Some lucky bottles are recycled, however there are many factors that reduces the ability to recycle (such as if they are broken, have too much contamination, or simply wind up anywhere outside of recycle factories). Glass can take up to one million years to decompose[1] which can consider them even more harmful for the environment compared to plastic waste.

On another note, close to none of the labels or packaging of wine and spirit bottles are accessible for the Blind. It takes much longer for someone who cannot see to find the right liquor to take home and always requires a helping hand, which can be a very discriminating, especially when they wish to act independently.

A simple infographic showing the gap between the environment, being accessible to people who are blind, and liquor brands.
SOLUTION

In ancient Japan, sake production was confined primarily to the Imperial court for the emperor or for ceremonial use, thus basely associating sake with purification and royalty. After centuries of production, sake today has ripened into a world-renowned beverage with a variety of characteristics. We hoped that by designing for such a recognized drink, it would encourage other liquor brands around the globe to also consider designing their future products to be accessible to the Blind. Keeping in mind that the bottles being designed bilingual suggests the option is open for this brand to be produced in other languages as well, with the hope that being sold internationally would make the impact of our message even stronger.

Our final design was created with three main focuses in mind: be environmentally-friendly, be accessible, and be of high-end quality, all while embodying both a sense of Japanese tradition and modernity. Thus we designed Oonami to look and feel utmost luxurious to represent sake in its roots, in three desired flavours—  nigori (cloudy sake), umeshu (plum sake), and awa sake (sparkling sake), each to their own unique graphics and textures.  Braille is incorporated into every physical aspect of the brand (box, bottle, and seed packet). Additionally, the bottles are both visually and textually appealing to the Seeing and the Blind (there are three textures for the bottles to remain unique to their own flavour and easily distinguishable from each other). And of course it was also within our priorities to encourage better use of packaging materials; the box and pack of seeds are recyclable material and they work together with the beautiful and minimal design of the bottles to give it a second life as a vase.

A simple infographic showing how Oonami connects the gaps between the three main ideas.
BRANDING

Oonami’s signature bold circle, also known as ensō, derives from connecting the three issues into a solution. This is a strong Japanese symbol for absolute enlightenment and a universal expression of wholeness. It can also be interpreted as an element borrowed from the Japanese flag— as the rising sun or even a full moon.

A calming, clean, and friendly typeface is chosen for the brand logo. This stands out from competing sake brands who tend to use script or brush-like fonts and pushes for that modern look.

By using a long and slim barcode, it enhances the style of the bottle rather than disrupting it.

The Braille layout spreads out sparingly, separating every piece of information for convenience. The user will always read the type of beverage first to ensure a quick process of finding the perfect drink, before moving down to the brand, and finally alcohol percentage.

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