CRUSH CHATS TO Fanakalo
Wine Label Designers
Crush interviews wine label designers, Jan Solms and Rohan Etsebeth of Fanakalo.
When, Where and How?
We started Fanakalo in Stellenbosch in June 2009. Both of us studied at Stellenbosch University but we met through mutual friends on a road trip through the Transkei.How did you end up designing wine labels?
We never set out to do wine labels exclusively, but being in Stellenbosch it makes up the bulk of what we do. The guys from Boer & Brit were our first clients and from there the demand has grown by word-of-mouth.
What inspires you to design the labels?
We test-drive the wine first of course! Inspiration ranges from old packaging and design from the 1920’s, interesting signage, etchings, hand typography and retro surfing culture to even just cup of good coffee. Once we’ve been briefed, we go off in search of visual inspiration that will fit the concept.
Is it important that the label reflects the style of the wine, ethos of the cellar and winemaker?
We take the personality of the winemaker/winery into account and see if we can convey it visually. The style of the wine plays a significant role but people who want us to design their labels are rarely looking for the serious ‘stiff-upper-lip-family-crest’ formula.
Your favourite brand to work with in your portfolio?
It is hard to single anyone out as most of our clients have become like close friends. The guys from Boer & Brit regularly try to phone-prank us….
What do you admire most about your business partner?
Jan: Rohan’s YouTube search skills
Rohan: Jan’s love for the 80’s. ‘Big Country – In a Big Country’ and ‘Van She – Kelly’ – Google it!
What is the essential key to designing a catchy and memorable label?
We still have to see which of our labels will stand the test of time. We live in a fast-paced world where labels will possibly be changing more rapidly, but in general we feel that if a label evokes discussion or draws attention, it a successful label. Wine labels are the only packaging that normally end up on a dinner table and we love it if they communicate a story or ethos. If a winemaker is able to tell a story about their wine by means of the packaging. we feel it has succeeded in grasping more attention and thus creating a more memorable experience.
You do classic and quirky, which do you prefer?
We have done far more quirky than classic as the people who come to us are normally asking for the funkier stuff but we also really enjoy doing the classic.
How does the process work, from brief to printed label?
This depends on each different label and the client of course, but we would have a ‘brief’’ meeting in which either the client briefs us, or we ask as many questions as we can to deduce a point to focus on for the concept or strategy. We’ll then go and brainstorm and do some rough mock-ups of different drafts that we think could work. From there we would advance to a final execution of the mocked-up drafts that we and the client have decided on. Lastly it would be final tweaks and print production.
Where else would we have seen your work?
We don’t only design wine labels. We have also been involved with the artwork for the band Zinkplaat and events including Oppikoppie, Ramfest and Kamers Vol Geskenke.
What is the best part about the work you do?
Working on creative projects, with creative people who are on the same wave length. The work hasn’t stopped since we started and we have had some very exciting opportunities. There is much more to come, watch this space.
Fanakalo Visual Communication Studio