Case in point: Oxygen & SummerLake

Of course we had to speak to the designers themselves. First, we asked two from hot agencies for their theories on what makes design, well, hot. Then we asked them to highlight a recent project that proves it.

Of course we had to speak to the designers themselves. First, we asked two from hot agencies for their theories on what makes design, well, hot. Then we asked them to highlight a recent project that proves it.

Alex Wigington

CD/partner Oxygen Design + Communications, Toronto


Agency age: 11 years

Number of staff: 15

Number of clients: 12 active at any given time

Select clients: Constellation NewEnergy, Davids/Capezio, InterfaceFLOR Canada, LCBO, Look Good Feel Better,St. Andrew’s College, Toronto Public Library Foundation

Career snapshot:

Studied graphic design at Toronto’s George Brown College and worked as a graphic designer prior to founding Oxygen in 1996 as CD with partner Marawan El-Asfahani as principal.

She writes:

Why design? Why now?

More and more clients understand the value of good design and how it increases value for their business, and are investing more in unique marketing solutions and breaking out of the old-school marketing models. Design firms are being brought in at the onset of projects to create innovative marketing plans and design strategies. And clients

are seeing first hand how good design builds consumer loyalty and

moves products off shelves.

Product: SummerLake Tetra Pak Wine Packaging


Client: Boisset Vins & Spiritueux of France

CD: Alex Wigington

Design director: Jennifer Weaymouth

Illustrator: Tracy Walker

Writer: Jim Rea

Design thinking disclosed:

Jean-Charles Boisset, president of Boisset America, approached Oxygen in the fall of 2006 with the idea of launching a series of wines in Tetra Paks from Ontario called SummerLake.

Boisset, son of the company’s founder, understands the value of good design, and as such the Burgundy-based company has been very successful with their launch of innovative French wine labels such as French Rabbit and Yellow Jersey.

Since we are big lovers of wine, we were thrilled with this project,

but challenged with having to create a new brand of wine out of thin air. These new Tetra Paks would be competing against other Ontario brands with long-standing histories and similar varietals.

We started off our creative process by thinking about the consumer first. We put ourselves in their shoes and thought, what is lacking out there? What will consumers identify with? What will visually stand out on the shelf among the sea of other Tetra Paks? How can our designs appeal emotionally to consumers?

We decided to focus on creating a vision for SummerLake – captivating an audience that’s ready to buy into an experience or a destination. So where do most Ontarians go to escape for fun and relaxation? Well, up north to the cottage, of course! SummerLake was designed to feel like a retreat – a cottage in a Tetra Pak. To transport consumers to SummerLake, we used evocative imagery inspired by nature at the cottage and language to create a mythology.

The designs create an emotional connection, while also communicating

the brand’s close association with nature and the environment

(eco-friendly packaging). They look like a forest on a shelf. The Tetra Pak container has the shape and form of a tree trunk, so we selected a tree that’s common in Ontario for each package: Red Maple, Yellow Birch and Red Oak. The tree bark imagery could represent any time of year – summer, autumn, winter or spring – establishing SummerLake as a brand for all seasons. The extreme close-up featuring the texture of tree bark evokes a sense of flavour and quality – and the romantic association that wine shares with wood.

We commissioned Toronto illustrator Tracy Walker to do a series of three illustrations. Her unique style and flair for nature captured the look and feel of SummerLake. The illustrations were designed to connect and form the shape of a wave along the middle of each package for dynamic shelf impact – no matter how you arrange them. The large leaf icons brand each varietal clearly and are set among a montage of underwater lake life so that they stand out among other Tetra Paks. Each package uses the name of each tree as an enhancement to the varietal name: Red Maple Cabernet Sauvignon, Yellow Birch Chardonnay and Red Oak Syrah-Villard.

How long from conception to fruition?

Our creative team presented concepts in October 2006. The official launch of the first wine – Red Maple Cabernet Sauvignon – was held in

Port Carling, Muskoka, in July 2007.