UNA – celebrating Italian unification?

So, this is the wine that officially marked the 150th anniversary of Italian unification?

UNA on The Dieline Packaging Blog

Click on image for further images

I just came across this link via the excellent packaging blog The Dieline, although this is actually a 2 year old project by Cibic Workshop on behalf of Vinitaly.

Let me start by saying that I LOVE Italy. Honestly I do. I grew up there and for many years was more Italian than British, but I think I love the IDEA of Italy more than the actual place (PLEASE do take the time to watch the excellent documentary film: “Girlfriend in a Coma” on this subject which prompted me to be thinking about Italy).

This wine concept just says so much about what appears to be wrong with the country today.

The design is minimalist and elegant, Italy does design well, yet it is also arrogant, sexist and self-indulgent.

The effect is at the simultaneously minimal and overdesigned. It is elegant, but it also feels like it is trying just a bit too hard to be cool. The illusion is easily shattered.

The wine themselves are each blends of 20 indigenous varieties which sounds like a good idea, but makes you wonder what you get out of the experience when it says little about the real wines of Italy. The irony is that these wines fall foul of all the MANY (DOCG, IGT, etc.) laws in place intended to uphold the quality of Italian wine.

Where is the information that informs the owner of the bottle? Where is the pride in Italy, its history and culture? All you get is a tiny label with the bottle number, the dates (1861 – 2011) and the prosaic “Red/White Wine of Italy”. Minimalism is taken to an extreme that implies there is nothing else that can, or needs to be, said.

Is it actually more likely that there is nothing else that they could agree to display? Is it arrogance, or evidence of lack of real cooperation and understanding? Is the message of the bottle marking unification that the country is actually still highly divided and mistrustful?

The bottle shapes are also typically sexist ideas. To quote from the release:

“The couple is the symbol of unity itself, the two bottles evoke a male and a female, and so the red wine bottle is a strong man and the white wine bottle is a elegant and slender woman.”

Yawn! Another strong male and his slim, attractive female partner. Seems that sexual politics have not changed that much since 1861 then?

Then to self-indulgence.

“To open it you need a key, an instrument that symbolizes the precious wine in it.
The key is the archetype of loyalty and trust towards the people they are entrusted to.”

Does the key symbolise loyalty and trust? I would have thought the opposite. You lock it away because you can’t trust anyone.

No, the key is a symbol of the fact that what might be good about Italy is being designed to death, layered with expensive trappings, then locked away from the world so that it remains aloof and unreal, a collectors’ item for those with lots of money and not interested in the realities of where this comes from. Is this the real message?

Sorry Italy. This is not what I remember or fell in love with.


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