Imagine two of the most universal, elemental materials we know: Glass and paper. Now imagine each of these materials taking an iconic form—a silhouette that says something about culture, about creativity, a shape with a story to tell.
If this idea appeals to you then you’ll be pleased to know that two iconic products—the Coca-Cola bottle and the Moleskine notebook—are coming together for a special limited edition collection. The collaboration is in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Coca-Cola contour bottle and is part of an initiative called #MashupCoke which challenges artists around the globe to recreate and reimagine vintage Coca-Cola bottle imagery and iconography.
The Paper Project
“We’ve always wanted to work with Moleskine,” says Coca-Cola global design director Deklah Polansky. “This Mashup project felt really special, just a beautiful marriage for both brands. It’s about creating moments and allowing moments for artists to create.”
“There is a lot of conversation in business today about authenticity, and it’s a key component of our Brand narrative," according to Marsha Schroeder, Global Licensing Manager at Coca-Cola. "Moleskine is a leader in the art/stationery space. When we embark on collaborations with a brand it is critical that both brands benefit from the relationship. They embody authenticity, craftsmanship and leadership in their category. Coca-Cola MASHUP is an example of two iconic brands coming together to bring the consumer a new experience."
The six artists who created covers for the Moleskine collection were selected from an invitation that originally went out to hundreds of fine artists, illustrators, designers and architects around the world. Referencing 15 or so favorite pieces of vintage artwork, the challenge was to pick one and reinterpret it as a work on paper, using only Coca-Cola Red, black and white.
It’s a simple and elegant brief, reminiscent of the now-famous one that Coca-Cola approached glass manufacturers with more than a century ago: to create a form so unique it would be recognized by touch in the dark and when broken on the ground.
The singular silhouette of the Coke bottle comes together with one-of-a-kind Moleskine design in many different ways. What the covers ultimately share, and share with Coca-Cola, says Polansky, is that “They all have a moment of surprise and delight.”
What both an unopened bottle of Coke and an unmarked Moleskine present is the delicious beauty of possibility, of creative exploration, of storytelling—the chance to personalize a container for ideas and experiences. “We don’t have a logo on the notebooks,” Polansky points out. “We’re really celebrating the bottle and the art around the bottle and the sensibility of each designer who contributed to these.”
The Artist’s Inspiration
Among those creators is London-based Chris Weston of design agency forpeople, who says he admired “the beauty in the bottling process,” which he represented on his cover “in an abstract graphic way, using simple red and white line work.” He chose to stack 2D bottles, presented like cardboard cut-outs of the form—red bodies with white outlines. “The artwork is about scale, about multiples, about the democracy of the Coca-Cola bottle,” Weston says. “It’s not a singular trophy. It’s the millions of Coca-Cola bottles experience.”
From a users perspective, Polansky notes, the experience is a special one. “First you look at it because it’s a beautiful pattern, and then you discover Coke after all,” she says. “So it has that surprise and delight moment.”
After reviewing a great number of submissions, Moleskine chose the contour bottle interpretations of these artists:
- American designer David Schwen, who created a photographic representation of bottles that appear wet with fresh Coca-Cola Red paint.
- A team from Ogilvy & Mather Paris, whose freehand sketching rendered each bottle unique and, said Polansky, “feels it’s bringing together different people, celebrating all of us rather than one”.
- Hitomi Watanabe and Iku Oyamada of HI(NY) Design, who, says Polansky, “didn’t choose one of the vintage Coke images but chose them all,” bringing them together in a kind of collective sweetness and memory, a mandala of many tiny illustrations.
- In-house designer Matt Allen, who incorporated the boldest use of black in the set with his large graphic bottle necks.
- Tom Farrell, another resident Coke talent depicted a whole nostalgic, irresistible set piece—the full bottle just opened, off-center against the clean red background.
All of the designs are special but Farrell’s actually made history. It moved Moleskine to do something the company had never done before: print on the definitive elastic band. For this notebook, it will winningly be in red-and-white stripes evoking the Coca-Cola spirit that complete the picture.
The line will be available at Moleskine.com and select retailers.
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