christmas cinnamon figgy swirl ice cream with praline

Ta daaaaah! As promised there will be a new recipe here each week between now and the new year – and first up is this gem of an ice cream that I created last year for the good people at Fisher & Paykel and Dish magazine. I am so excited to finally share it, because it really is such a bloody delicious and easy solution to Christmas dessert. The ice cream tastes like Christmas – with whisky (or brandy), ginger, figs and cinnamon all blended together in a luscious creamy base, and the praline provides that extra little bit of festive sparkle to make it even more fancy!

Right I  am literally posting this ‘on the run’ (or walk actually), I am just about to head out the door for my morning walk, Pog is upstairs in bed with Maggie and Dougal, and we have a busy day ahead – starting with the book signing at Karen Walker New market at midday. Henry is joining me which is so super cool, it will be a huge treat for me to have him there, and then we have a few jobs to run around and get done before heading off to Waiheke tomorrow. So, that’s it for now, really must fly – but more news next time…

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Have a “Cool Christmas” With This Glitzy Advent Calendar

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Danish design studio Bessermachen wants you to have a “Cool Christmas” and in the spirit of the holidays have come out with this special advent calendar which is giving us serious winter vibes.

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“Thank God, It’s Christmas!

Bessermachen has created a Christmas calendar for Danish toffee company, Karamelleriet. The calendar is not only ridiculously delicious on the inside, because this year it has gotten a great big sprinkle of funky disco silver glitter on the outside.”

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“And we’re talking a lot of glitter! Because when Karamelleriet laid out their Christmas wishes for us, they wanted a icy calendar, which is hot as hell. They sought a design that was modern, sharp and, of course, delicious.

You can enjoy the result right here. We’ve made a design wrapped in silver inside and out, which sends you right outside in the glittering snow on a frosty funky day. And once you open the calendar doors and the many delicious tastes from Karamelleriet reveal themselves, everyday is like a Christmas party in your mouth.

Merry Christmas from all of us!”

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Designed By: Bessermachen

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

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The Packaging Design Industry After Saying Goodbye to the Soviet Union

The Rising Star of Baltic Packaging Design: From the Iron Curtain to Global Standards

By: Edvardas Kavarskas

Imagine living in a country where the government is the only brand manager of all products in the market. This is exactly what it used to be like working as a designer in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. To celebrate their 25th anniversary of independence, let’s dive into how Baltic countries managed to fight back and gain independence from the Soviet Union during 1990-1991—which resulted in packaging design that shaped a notable tradition and style that is still prevalent.

Quirky childhood objects

As Estonian designer Meelis Mikker tells it, he was introduced to Western packaging design in 1975-1980, when carton packs of milk, juice and household cleaners (coming from Finland, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands or Denmark) were regularly washing up on shore due to the storms. Meelis collected these packs and put them on display at home, having no idea he would become a packaging designer one day.

I was born in a Soviet (yet already rumbling) Lithuania, in 1982. My childhood memories are filled with tetrahedrons of молоко (milk) lying around, chewing the Estonian-made Kalev Apelsininäts (orange) bubblegum, a bottle of the Rīgas Melnais Balzams (Riga Black Balsam) resting on the grownups’ table next to Советское шампанское (Soviet champagne) which wasn’t actually champagne—it was sparkling wine.

When a state “agency” creates all the packaging

In those days, Baltic design operated inside economic limits, not market ones. No competition between brands meant no need to establish marketing strategies. Instead, ministries or other state institutions placed orders to create packaging for various products, the graphic design of which had to serve ideological and decorative functions. For instance, in Lithuania, the bureau called Experimental Package Design Bureau took care of these affairs, with around 30 designers at hand. They were referred to as “artists-constructors,” while their packaging designs were approved or dismissed by a special art council that assembled every two weeks!

Gediminas Lašas—who used to work at the bureau at the time—remembers this institution being part of a joint production association Vilnius, which included a whole printing house equipment that specialized in packaging production. The “artists-constructors” could observe the technological operations and be part of the production process, which actually resulted in some great designs. However, even though everything was designed relatively well, the technology couldn’t catch up with the one over the Iron Curtain. The packaging of products which went to international exhibitions were of better quality since such items had to show that Soviets weren’t behind westerners in terms of technology.

From planned activities and distinctive traditions to an independent uncertainty

As the Baltic countries all had solid art schools of higher education, different professionals from the fields of graphic arts, painting or art history worked on packaging design together. A distinctive Baltic packaging design aesthetics were different from the rest of the USSR—it was minimalistic at times, ascetic even, brutal and possessing hints of constructivism. And vice versa—highly decorative, with sometimes ethnographic elements added to it. These designs were arguably a reflection of the earlier days of Interwar independence (1918-1940). Also, almost every design relied on typography and aimed to create genuine artistic value as there was no competition.  

The lack of professional feedback from art critics posed a substantial problem during the Soviet days. Piia Poldmaa, an Estonian designer, says that every magazine or a piece of packaging brought from outside the Iron Curtain was very valuable: people used to sell or collect empty Western packs, even cans of drinks!

1985 had Mikhail Gorbachev steering the Soviet Union in a new direction; the processes of restructuring took over with the message of openness. The first advertising agency in Lithuania opened its doors in 1989: Astos dizainas (now McCann Vilnius).

1989 also witnessed two million Baltic residents achieving something quite unbelievable: a live chain of people holding hands named the Baltic Way, stretching over 600 km through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. This symbolic gesture showed the world that these three countries weren’t part of the Soviet Union anymore. Lithuania and Latvia declared independence in 1990, Estonia in 1991. Grand systemic and philosophical shifts were about to take place.

Stay tuned for part 2 of The Rising Star of Baltic Packaging Design.

I’d like to thank Karolina Jakaitė, Meelis Mikker, Piia Põldmaa, Gediminas Lašas, Violeta Kasevičienė, Audrius Klimas, Dan Mikkin and Edmundas Jankauskas for their help in preparing this part.


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Edvardas Kavarskas
Edvardas is the partner and design strategist of Étiquette, a strategic design agency focusing on packaging and branding. He’s also a speaker at various conferences and almost a PhD of neurodesign. Member of the Lithuanian Graphic Design Association (LGDA) and the Lithuanian Marketing Association (LiMA), Edvardas firmly believes that design is a lifestyle, an outlook rather than a job. It’s a way to understand the world and things that surround us. He sees packaging design and branding as commercial art—there’s no good or bad design. It’s either a successful or unsuccessful example of the implemented brief.

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coming unstuck with karen walker

Helloooooo – I just wanted to remind you that it is looking likely that Coming Unstuck will sell out by Christmas, so if you’re keen to pick up a copy for yourself or as a gift pop along to the Newmarket Karen Walker store this Saturday 2nd December between12-1pm. I feel incredibly privileged to be signing books alongside these amazing authors – Eleanor Ozich, Stacy Gregg, Sam Stuchbury, Catherine Chidgey, Megan May and Jordan Rondel – I have to say the whole thing feels pretty surreal!

Big thanks to the team at Karen Walker for supplying the pics and to Viva for the shout out for the top fun things to do this weekend. Hopefully see you on Saturday!!!!! (PS – there will be a bloody fabulous new recipe up on the blog tomorrow too)

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The Packaging for Seed to Serum Has Us Looking Through Rose-Colored Classes

If plant-based skincare is what you’re looking for, then Seed to Serum is just for you. Inspired by the healing properties of rose quartz, the packaging—designed by Knoed Creative—features a dreamy color palette and abstract shapes that feel contemporary and delicate.

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“Seed to Serum is an online curator of plant-based skincare products. They were looking to start over completely with a modern look that feels unique and approachable. The visual identity was inspired by rose quartz for its color, irregular shapes and healing properties, minerals because our skin needs them and gold leaf you’d find on a traditional apothecary window. The result is an uplifting, modern and fun brand that uses handmade watercolor textures and a mixed use of graphic patterns. Custom mailer boxes were designed along with a premium gift box, crystal-shaped business cards and a newly rethemed website.”

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Designed by: Knoed Creative

Designers: Kim Knoll and Kyle Eertmoed, Knoed Creative

Client: Megan Schwarz, Seed to Serum

Photography: Steve and Anne Truppe, Tru Studio

Country: United States

City: Chicago, IL

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It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere: Look at These Delightfully Designed Cocktail Syrups

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Good to the last drop! Pencil Studio Ltd designed these cocktail syrups with to be simple and straightforward—they’re high quality and offer many different flavors. It takes a modern approach with sans serif font and a clean, minimal label.

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“The Bristol Syrup Company is a collaboration between Bristol based syrup experts and bartenders. They’ve distilled down years of experience to create a range of quality cocktail syrups; tasting authentic to the name on the label and to the syrups bartenders would make themselves.”

“A small batch brand, made for bartenders by bartenders. With a handcrafted approach to their products we wanted to give their brand a simplistic ‘Artisan’ feel, nothing over embellished, just a simple no fuss look.”

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Designed by: Pencil Studio Ltd

Creative Director: Luke Manning

Designer: Luke Manning

Country: United Kingdom

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This Beer is Probably the Best Airmail You’ll Ever See

Getting a postcard or letter from someone overseas is always exciting, but what could be even better? That’s right, beer letters. ALAUS LAIŠKAI is a line of brews cleverly designed by TBWA \ Vilnius to look like it’s been postmarked and sent to you from its country of origin.

“Volfas Engelman Studija is a new project from the beer brand Volfas Engelman and consists of museum and mini-brewery.”

“Here the best brewers try recipes from countries all over the world—from traditional to the most exotic flavours. The most successful of them are released in special series.”

“The solution is to convey every type of beer in the series as a newly arrived authentic taste from its country of origin.”

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“The name of the series is ALAUS LAIŠKAI (BEER LETTERS).”

“The design of the label conceptually and consistently conveys the idea of the series: the logo is like a postmark, the form is like a postage stamp, and the illustration is created in style, which is characteristic to postage stamps.”

“Everything is put together and so we have an authentic parcel of flavour for a real beer gourmet.”

“The opening of the Studio is celebrated by the launch of rare beers collection: Ruby Stout, Wheat IPA, Cream Ale and Chilli Pils.”

 


Designed by: TBWA \ Vilnius

Creative director: Tomas Kasparavicius

Art director: Jolanta Vasiliauskyte

Copywriter: Julius Narkunas

Designer: Gintare Kavaliauskaite

Illustrator: Kestutis Jankauskas

Project manager: Agne Kraujale

Photographer: Andrej Vasilenko

Country: Lithuania

City: Vilnius

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