We were delighted to play a part in Design Pop, Cork’s newest festival. It was a unique blend of design, food and awareness of the city’s character and environment. We’re pretty sure it’s going to get even bigger in the years ahead an kudos to the organisers for putting this together.
Seeing the art installations, like the ‘Food Choice’ installation at Good Day Deli, got me thinking about our own decisions both in design and the impact we have on the environment. It brought me back to the early days of Holo and how it’s been a completely new path for me, one I feel very lucky to be on. Nearly from the start we knew that the drinks we produce would be pretty much natural. We didn’t want to produce highly processed drinks that would have the soul ripped from them in an effort to chase the last penny. That’s not me so it didn’t make sense that we would go down that route.
Instead we wanted drinks that would be brewed pretty much the way nature intended. That we would bottle them without destroying their character or living culture. And even with the downs and ups of starting a new business, that core belief has never changed. We remain a very ‘hands on’ brewery, no fancy machinery and no fancy filtration, sterilisation or other high processing aids. We know we impact people’s lives with these drinks – we get the emails – so changing that just is never an option.
In designing our label back in the early days, we wanted to reflect that. The name Holo is short for ‘Holisitic Organics’ because we believe that what we eat affects us not just physically, but on a holistic level. That we are more than just physical entities that need physical food but that what we consume affects us on an emotional, mental and spiritual level. That it is all connected. You might better understand where I’m coming from if I told you that one of the original names I had going around my head for the drink was ‘hippies in disguise’ 😀
What struck me during the weekend looking at all the other food producers was that they are all pretty much local. And that is growing in importance because I think people are waking up to the fact that we can’t continue to do what we’ve being doing and expecting different results – we’ve become consumers of an insane amount of stuff and I think this move towards more local, healthier, organic, free from – all these terms that you hear in food – that this move towards them is part of the broader recognition that we are becoming more conscious of what we are doing to our home in the first place. It mightn’t be that you like hugging trees, but when you choose to become more aware in what you buy, what you consume or what you eat, you become part of a broader movement of being more conscious about your life and the legacy or effect you have on everything around you.
The challenge I see for designers then in all this is how to continue this movement. We wanted our products to be a force for good. By that I mean, we wanted it to help people and not be harmful to the environment.
One of the many tasks in launching a product is how to convey on the label what the company and product is about. I wish we could say that we had a really clever idea how to do this, but we didn’t! So instead, we wrote exactly what we believe on the bottle. Then we put a picture of ourselves on it so people would know who made Holo.
I think designers have a big role to play in today’s world in that they are really at the forefront of any new product or idea. Even before an idea has hit production, design is involved nearly from the very first brainwave somebody had. Whether it’s a massive building or some small packaging, design can influence a product to be a force for good. For example, using materials that can be reused time and time again, or using materials that are recycled. Or enhancing the community aspect of a building and being conscious how it will affect those around it for years to come. For our part, as time has gone by, we keep coming up with new ways to eliminate waste from the brewery.
For example, we reuse boxes. We reuse packaging that comes in with deliveries for online orders going out (apologies to anyone that has got not the prettiest packaging delivered, but hey, it saves cardboard and wrap going to landfill!). Our display stands are made from repurposed wood! We use runoff water from our filtration system for cleaning. We take back bottles to wash, clean, sterlise and reuse. It’s a painstaking process and truth be told, it’s probably cheaper to just buy a new bottle. But that’s not the point really when it comes to the environment – sometimes there’s just the right thing to do even if its not the most economical.
When we decide to do these things, we decide to be a force for good. And the really cool thing is that everybody can do this. It’s a conscious decision to take, that no matter what we do or what our job is, we too can decide to use our work as a force for good in the world.
And that I think is the challenge for all of us, whether we are designers or food producers – to bring a decision of being good or being kind to everything we do and by extension, changing the way we do things in the world, one bottle at a time, one design brief at a time.