Борис Бурда
Author: Boris Burda
Journalist, writer, bard. Winner of the «Diamond Owl» intellectual game «What? Where? When?»
Liberal Arts
7 minutes for reading

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
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ATTENTION – QUESTION!

 

They say that Gunnar Broman accidentally saw an old medical flask in the window of a small antique shop, selling all sorts of rubbish, and was simply delighted with the purity of its style and the perfection of its forms.

It soon became the foundation of a new successful brand. Which one?

The answer is a bit later.

 

FORM AND CONTENT

 

Since the dawn of time, people have associated the shape of a vessel with its expected content. Even among the ancient Hellenes, wine, in the process of its origin, transportation and drinking, changed vessels like gloves, and each stage had its own vessel.

The Greeks did not ferment wine in barrels – barrels appeared 50 years after the Peloponnesian War, and were  personally invented by Plato’s nephew Speusippus. Until that time, wine gurgled in pithos – egg-shaped vessels up to 2 meters high, usually dug into the ground for stability.

It was in such a pithos that Diogenes lived in, and not in any barrel – a fashionable novelty for a fundamentally mendicant cynic was clearly not affordable, and where would he find it? By the way, they kept in pithos not only wine, but also oil, not to mention grain and other bulk products.

When the wine had settled, it was peppered in an amphora – it was simply created for storing wine: a narrow neck gives a small mirror of evaporation, and it is easier to plug it with a tow or a rag. You can’t just put the amphora on the table – the pointed bottom in the hold of the ship was stuck in the sand.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Amphora

So they drove right up to our Black Sea shores, and when they delivered where they should, they simply buried it in the ground: it would not fall, and it would cool down. For two beautiful handles (“hands on hips”) it was very convenient to carry it – after all, an amphora usually held 15–20 liters of wine, you cannot carry it under your arm.

 

SPILL PREPARATION

 

Wine usually got on the table already in pelica – a type of amphora with a bloated body from below. Pelica could already stand, its bottom was quite flat.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Pelica

And it is very convenient to store small volumes of wine in it. Stamnos with a wide and short neck was fit for it.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Stamnos

It was even easier to pour from the stamnos with a special antique ladle. And to cool the wine, it was poured into a psycter, standing like a mushroom on a stem, on a high and narrow cylinder, which allowed putting the psycter in another vessel filled with water or ice.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Psycter

Before pouring the wine into cups, it was mixed with water – the Greeks quite correctly believed that all Scythians, who drink wine undiluted, will not get drunk to anything good in the end. Since the Scythians in those days just roamed from about Odeshchina to Dnepropetrovsk region, it must be admitted that there was some sense in this position…

For mixing, a crater was used – a bowl with a wide neck, similar to the crater of a volcano – that’s why the word arose.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Crater

If a lot of wine was required, frankly speaking, it was terrible that a “terrible” bowl with the name dinos was taken, because a dinosaur means “terrible lizard”.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Dinos

It included not only a mixing vessel, but also a beautiful stand. And water was poured into craters and dinos from hydria – the name speaks for itself. The hydria usually had three handles at once, two vertical and one horizontal, otherwise how to keep such nasty things?

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Hydria

 

NOW YOU CAN HAVE A DRINK

 

After proper dilution, the wine should be brought to the end consumer. For this, the Greeks had their own ceramics – a scoop with the beautiful name of Kiaf, usually equipped with a long curved handle. A little later, the name “Kiaf” even received a measure of volume, about 45 grams.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Kiaf

It was the smallest – serious people drank whole khoiniks, and in one khoinik there were just 2 ksesta, 4 kotilya, 16 oxybafs or 24 kiafs. It is easy to calculate that khoinik is about a liter and a quarter; according to modern science, it is a lethal dose of vodka for a person of average weight, if you drink right away and do not run anywhere. Is it a coincidence? Oh whether…

And in order to pour wine to a large number of people, the oinohoya was ideally adapted. Its name even translates as “watering can for wine”, and in this regard, it has left far behind the modern bottleneck trifles – thanks to its shamrock-shaped whisk oinokhoya allowed pouring wine into three vessels at once.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Oinohoya

Where did these kiafs and oinokhoys pour their wine? For example, in kiliks there are beautiful flat bowls on a stand, a kind of flattened glasses.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Kilik

Kanfars looked even more graceful – beautiful cups with two curved handles on a high leg, it was believed that they were invented by Dionysus himself.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Kanfar

Those who wanted to drink in the Scythian way drank from a Scythian, a wide-mouthed bowl with two horizontal handles.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Skyphos

And whoever wanted to drink was offered a ritual horn, often in the shape of a human or animal’s head – rhyton. Sometimes, like a Caucasian horn, it was impossible to put it on until you had drunk everything. However, there were also rhytons with a graceful leg.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Rhyton

 

BOTTLES OF LEGENDS AND LEGENDS FOR BOTTLES

 

Since the ancient Greeks invented all the foundations of our civilization, their idea that a special vessel corresponds to each stage of drinking was further developed. The most advanced winemakers decided that special wines also needed special bottles.

Have you ever heard of a wine that was personally created for Louis XIV? Legend says that this wine was made from hand-picked dark grapes, and the king loved it so much that he preferred it to all other wines. Have you ever heard? Well, listen further …

The same legend tells that once this wine was served to the table of the Sun King in a strange bottle with a twisted neck. To the bewildered question of the monarch why it was something lopsided to be served on the table, they immediately answered that everything bowed to His Majesty.

From such a story a legend of the brand breathes a mile away, and even a very specific one – the brand of the gray mare on a moonless night. In fact, the brand of wines with this legend appeared, as the company itself admits, only in 1984. And this bottle shape was developed by a modern designer.

However, they also say about Nicholas I that he rudely said to the ensign, who said that he was coming “from the depota”: “Fool, does the depot change?” They could well have borrowed – the legends of the brand are not shy thing.

 

 

BOTTLE WITH WASP WAIST

 

Not only alcoholic beverages position themselves as unusual containers. The most widespread non-alcoholic drink in the world (excluding pure water), which is sold in all countries of the world except Cuba and the DPRK, has been using containers of a unique form, recognizable everywhere, for more than a long time.

Once upon a time, Coca-Cola bottles were completely different – take a look. By the way, does the first of them have some resemblance to the medical flask, which was discussed at the beginning of the article, or did I confuse something? Take a look and decide for yourself. But wide popularity was not destined for them.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
The first Coca-Cola bottle

In 1915, the designer Earl R. Dean was commissioned to develop a new unique container for Coca-Cola. But poor Dean, no matter how hard he tried, could not find images of either a coca leaf or a cola nut (well, yes, there was still no Internet, and he clearly did not want to rummage in libraries).

He found a way out – either by accident or on purpose, most likely. He confused the coca plant with the cocoa fruit and made a bottle resembling a cocoa bean with its characteristic facets. There was no one to fix it – few Americans saw coca, cola, and cocoa.

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
The bottle of Earl R. Dean

Then they were proud of the bottle – it was impossible to confuse it with others, even in the dark or by fragments. The famous artist Andy Warhol depicted it in his paintings, which added popularity to both him and the bottle. Its forms in production have smoothed out a little, but in essence they remained the same.

 

WHAT DO MEDICALS DRINK?

 

Now you can return to our medical flask. Tell yourself, what drink do you associate with medicine the most? I have no doubt that almost everyone will think of the same thing – pure alcohol! Well, about its diluted variety, that is, vodka.

In the northern countries, grapes do not grow, and there it is much easier to obtain vodka than wine – it is driven from almost any plant material. In Sweden, vodka has been known for several centuries, calling it Brännvin, that is, “fire wine” – apparently because of its distillation.

In 1879, the Swedish businessman Lars Olsson Smith, with the help of a particularly thorough distillation (either continuous distillation at all, or 10 distillations in a row), received a new vodka, which he named Absolute Renat Brännvin, that is, “Absolutely pure vodka”. At first he became rich, but then he went bankrupt and died in complete poverty (now biographers basically write “absolute”).

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Lars Olsson Smith

After a hundred years, they decided to revive the brand. And a huge role in his success was played by a successful find made by Gunnar Broman in a small shop. He was so delighted with this bottle that he even declared that he had not seen anything more Swedish (a  bottle for vodka? Well, well…).

 

 

 

 

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
It was something like this bottle.                                                                                                        ATTENTION – CORRECT ANSWER!

 

 

What’s in a bottle of absolute perfection? Of course, something absolutely perfect – this is exactly how the vodka Absolut wanted to declare itself!

 

BRAND CREATION

 

The state-owned Swedish company V&S Vin & Spirit initially proposed completely different ideas for creating the image of a new drink. They were going to call it Vodka of Swedish Blondes with a Viking-robber on the label, then Vodka of the Imperial Courtyard with a label covered in frost.

And when I remembered the old name Absolute Renat Brännvi, it turned out that the English word “absolute” is an adjective, and it was forbidden to register a name beginning with an adjective in the USA. Then the last letter was simply removed from the word – it turned out “absolut”.

The development of a label for this bottle ended with the decision to abandon it altogether – let it not spoil the perfect shape of the old vessel. The text is placed directly on the glass, as is the portrait of Lars Olsson Smith, who became the patron spirit of the drink he invented.

Only alcohol is poured into this bottle, distilled from hard winter wheat growing near the town of Ehus, where the plant is located. Water – only artesian, from local wells. And bottles are made in the neighboring town of Limmared – everything in the space is in a gulkin’s nose, without exception.

 

UNION WITH BEAUTY

 

And you can talk about a good product in different ways. They strive to talk about Absolut in such a way that it also has artistic value. For example, a waterfall was found near the Geiranger Fjord, in which you can see the image of the famous bottle.

A close look finds this shape even on the London Underground map. Look here, can’t you see the bottle? Actually, I think the lines that form the outline of the bottle are not so straight, but this is the diagram that hangs all over the London Underground…

 
NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
The scheme of the London Underground

Not only an advertising but also an artistic event was the advertisement of this product with the help of posters with only two words. The first is Absolute, the second can be, for example, the name of a city. And it is always a drawing hinting at the cultural characteristics of the city in question.

Let’s say the Absolute Boston is the famous bottle of floating tea boxes, an allusion to the Boston Tea Party. Absolut Budapest – these are two Rubik’s cubes depicting the same bottle. Absolut Paris – Triumphal Arch in the shape of the same bottle. It is remembered…

NON-TRIVIAL SOLUTION: How to use an old bottle in a beautiful way?
Absolut Paris

Andy Warhol, who made the theme of the picture a bottle of Coca-Cola, also created his own special design of the Absolut bottle. And this is already a pass to high art – at least two of his paintings were sold for more than $ 100 million. Would you give so much? You simply do not have this amount …

 

THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT …

 

Usually any beautiful idea has its origins in the ancient world. It is enough just to search – and you will not have to search very long…

Don’t look for plausibility in the legends of the brand – a funny paradox should be enough. Remember what Eugene Schwartz said in Dragon? “Do you really know what the truth smells like, damn?”

Many worthwhile and interesting finds are the fruit of misunderstanding. Well, I would not have confused Earl R. Dean koku with cocoa – and would not have created a vessel, which his colleague Raymond Loewy called one of two perfect containers (the second is an egg)…

Lars Olsson Smith died in poverty, and the current brand Absolut is second only to Bacardi and Smirnoff in price. Having done a worthwhile thing, you will not get rich – you also need to be able to sell it…

Drinking a lot is not good, harmful and dangerous. So, if you do drink, drink a little and the highest quality drink. They get drunk on hard drink, fruit and berry poison and badly refined moonshine – it’s almost impossible to get drunk on good alcohol! It is too expensive …

 

All photos in publications are from open sources

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