Making Sake Cool

February 11, 2016



Question: how do you turn sake, a centuries-old beverage, into something that appeals to a fresh new audience?


Answer: Light it up! (And put it in a nightclub…it is an alcoholic drink after all).


The packaging for the new premium sake brand Four Fox Sake, designed by Vancouver-based Carter Hales Design Lab, does all of that and even manages to reference traditional Japanese mythology at the same time.


The Toronto-based partner of Hong Kong’s Distinguished Den Distribution approached Carter Hales Design Lab after seeing some of the studio’s work at the 2015 uVu Awards, sponsored by Veritiv.


“They had some pretty wild ideas of what they were hoping to achieve — they wanted to bring in some components from Japanese culture, like the samurai sword, to make something that was a non-traditional experience of sake. And they wanted to bring the sake into the nightclub market,” says Sean Carter, director of design at Carter Hales Design Lab.


The idea was to position the brand as an alternative to the top-shelf champagne so popular at Japanese clubs — and make it stand out at the same time.


The client had already determined the name Four Fox, but it wasn’t until Carter and co. got involved in brand research that they discovered Inari Okami, the Japanese god of rice, metalsmithing and sake, is represented by a fox that protected the traditional torii gates and would only allow pure spirits to pass through. “It was completely coincidental,” Carter says. “And a happy accident that it all connected.”


Carter depicted the foxes on the bottle’s crest, and included embossing of the samurai swords. A wood cap crowns the chrome bottle, creating a dichotomous mix of materials and fresh feel.


“The sake is made at a 200-year-old sake brewer and completely traditional. But we needed to present it in a modern way,” Carter explains.


His team developed a two-piece bottle featuring a chrome sheath over formed glass, which protects the sake from light exposure and extends its shelf life (sake is only good for a year when stored in proper conditions). The exterior chrome piece also features an LED light that illuminates the sake in a nightclub setting.


Carter Hales Design Lab also developed the Four Fox Sake website, and is currently working on a trade show booth and other collateral.


See the packaging below.






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