The recently held fourth annual “Wine and Design” event at the Merchandise Mart supported Common Thread for the Cure, a nonprofit whose mission is “to unite the furnishings industry in the battle against breast cancer.” A wine-label design competition serves as the evening’s main event. The winning designs, one for a Chardonnay and another for Pinot Noir, will be featured and sold next year by Russian River Vineyards.
Design industry networking, check. All-you-can-drink wine, check. Graphic design critique, check. Great cause, check. All of my favorite things all in one place, and for the most part, Wine and Design delivered. The scene was as delicious as it was buzzworthy, with plenty of food and wine followed by a late ice-cream course to sate post-work cravings of hundreds of designers.
This year’s theme was “creativity takes courage,” broad and conceptual enough for a wide range of designs. The winning entry for the Pinot was submitted by the firm Ware Malcomb; it featured a sensory, wine stain-inspired label. White wine winner was the firm Perkins Eastman. It was selected for a simple, Swiss-inspired and slightly eroticized breast emblazoned with the word “Chardonnay” as a censor bar. Both designs stood out for their polish, though Ware Malcolmb’s label may easily fade into the background on a random wine shelf. It was a fascinating display; though next year it would be lovely to see label designs mocked up on an actual bottle rather than flat-mounted to cardboard.
The event fell short in another important respect, through no fault of the organizers. The Mart’s lobby, an echo chamber clad in art deco glory, is a challenging event space. The organizers were wise to partition off a small area of the main entrance to bring much needed intimacy to the event. But a woeful AV system couldn’t rise above the din of the cavernous first floor. Still, regardless of sound quality, when someone is speaking, designers: pipe down and show some respect. Perhaps my mannerly grandmother is using me as a conduit, but the continual yakking while presenters shared their stories of survival was out-of-line and uncharacteristic. Even the most loquacious of us can maintain a respectful silence for ten minutes out of 120—especially when the silence is for a good cause. I am sure I would not be as gracious had I stood at the mic. As grandmother says, one shush should be enough. (Seth Unger)