In the 1600s, The East India Company was established by English merchants under Royal Charter issued by Queen Elizabeth I, to explore the Far East. Since then, The East India Company has had a huge impact on the way we live today through the establishment of trading ports and shipping routes that enabled the sharing of global customs, flavours and ways of thinking. From tea, coffee and exotic spices to the very first gin and tonics, used by explorers to ward off malaria, the 2016 launch of East India Gin represents the culmination of centuries of innovation and the launch pad for a new generation of flavour pioneers.
With a botanical history dating back over 400 years, and a rich heritage behind its story, the East India Gin Company wanted to ensure their gin had a bottle that could match its exquisite flavour. Signet was approached by design agency Contagious for help to accessorise what was quite a plain bottle with a classic flagon shape in pure white, reminiscent of the bone china vessels once used to transport fine teas around the world. Our brief was to express the finery of the gin whilst producing a practical, scalable design that would adapt to future expansion. Key to the whole look would be the use of the East India Company’s ‘Merchant’s Mark’ which has adorned goods traded by the company for centuries.
With 400 years of shipping heritage to draw on, we weren’t short of inspiration for this design. Contagious had already identified a number of key design elements they wanted to incorporate into the overall look; Signet’s role was to investigate the materials and processes that could make this a reality. Central to the whole design was the notion that this bottle should be ‘seaworthy’ – sturdy, robust and practical enough to withstand a trip around the world.
We investigated a number of metallic substrates, with a focus on functionality and design that wouldn’t increase the overall cost of goods.
We developed a stunning die-cast cartouche and matching bottle stopper, made from zinc and featuring the company’s iconic ‘chop’ mark – both pieces were finished in matt gold plating while the cartouche also featured red enamel in the relief for added contrast and a pop of colour amid the otherwise minimalist colour palette. The neck of the bottle featured a bespoke, two-part neck wrap with special adhesive to facilitate smooth, wrinkle-free application. This design was embossed with the design of an old-style coin, first used as currency by East India traders. Particular attention was paid to the thickness, dimensions and curves on each item – we wanted to ensure the bottle had visual gravitas and a tactile appeal whilst ensuring each piece could accommodate sink and bulge in the glass to ensure a snug fit that wouldn’t budge during transit. We also worked with East India to create bespoke boxes with protective cut-outs, which wrap the corks and badges, for a tailored solution that didn’t significantly adversely impact the cost of goods sold.
The outcome on this project really speaks for itself. The design envisaged by East India in conjunction with the designers at Contagious has really been brought to life in three dimensions with the addition of high-quality, bespoke embellishments that speak to both the ancient heritage and the exciting future of this progressive brand. Practical yet luxurious, chunky yet refined – the overall effect is to illustrate East India’s worldly outlook. On a functional note, Signet’s attention to detail makes the application of the products as simple as possible, with high quality adhesive on both the neck wrap and cartouche facilitating swift application on the bottling line, and the robustness of each piece ensuring it will withstand the demands of both transit and busy retail environments. Last but not least, the design is adaptable and timeless, ready to accompany the East India Gin Company on all of its future adventures – of which we feel sure there will be many!