Great ideas come from everywhere: a studio in a tiny village in Croatia producing award-winning ideas on the global stage

From a tiny village in Istria, Croatia, Studio Sonda prove that globally relevant work can be created no matter where you are located, with their Eurobest-winning campaign, 'Art directed by nature'.
Studio Sonda
Jelena Fiškuš & Sean Poropat, Creative Directors, Studio Sonda

A natural approach

Studio Sonda is an independent creative studio, based in a small stone house in Vižinada, a village with a population of just 300 people or so, in Istria, Croatia. We talk to creative directors Jelena Fiškuš & Sean Poropat, about their Eurobest-winning work, Art directed by nature, created for the natural wine brand, Piquentum Sv. Vital.

“We chose Vižinada as our creative base because its natural environment inspires us,” say Studio Sonda creative directors, Jelena Fiškuš & Sean Poropat. So when Dimitri Brečević, the producer of Istrian natural wine, Piquentum, approached the studio with a brief to communicate the naturalness of his wine, there was an immediate synergy. With shared values, they had the kind of mutually inspiring professional relationship to be envied.  

They knew that natural wine lovers tend to select wine based on personal recommendations, or from tastings at specialised wine fairs and at the wineries themselves. They aren’t easily persuaded by advertising, so the wine itself is an important channel to communicate with consumers.

For Dimitri Brečević, the essence of the wine-making process is ‘bottling nature’, and each year nature offers a different profile, despite the terroir and the grape variety remaining the same. In a ready-made and mass-produced world, is important to him that his wine should reflect this variance.

Bottling nature

A meaningful solution
To communicate the natural qualities of his wine, and knowing that the best way to reach the target audience of natural wine lovers, distributors, restaurant/winery managers and sommeliers, all around the world, is via the product itself, Studio Sonda gave Dimitri the means for storytelling - directly on the label.

They considered all the meteorological data available and selected precipitation as the most variable element and one that significantly affects the vintage. Studio Sonda worked with the Croatian Meteo-Institute to collate data on weather conditions in the vineyard and then represented it graphically on the bottles’ label: twelve circles, each representing a month of precipitation, from vintage to vintage. 

Consequently, each year the label is different. It tells an interesting story, and gives clues to the structure of the wine within, in effect, it is the wine's biography. The result is a collection of wines that encourage reflection and discussion during both the selection and consumption of wine.

Following the campaign, orders increased by 70% in previously existing foreign markets (Italy, USA, Austria, France) and in new foreign markets (UK, Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, Japan) the vintages for 2012/13/14 sold out. The novel approach prompted articles, awards, interviews and stories that were shared in restaurants, wine shops, and via wine bloggers. 

As the work developed over a number of years, it was frequently cited within design and advertising circles as an example of how design and communication can enhance the small farmers and artisans’ businesses and strengthen the position of their quality products. The entrepreneurs themselves became aware of how important it is to invest in design and communication and how much this can change the perception of their product among customers.

Winning design: the rainfall for each month of the vintage represented on the label

Awards can move you forward

The studio entered the work into Eurobest 2017 where it was awarded Silver in Design. They find that entering awards is motivating, allowing the team to reassess their work and providing an incentive to improve. “When your work is judged by an expert jury, and when you get structured feedback about it, even if it might be below your expectations, it can contribute a lot to the further development of your team.” they say.

The application process itself is also very important to the team because through creating case studies there is the opportunity to re-analyze the project development, identify any shortcomings and apply the knowledge to improve processes in future works. 

Another important element of the award is the confirmation to the client that their resources were well invested. It also serves to convince future clients who may be uncertain about investing in design and communication strategies. 

“The award reminds us every day that there are no obstacles to creativity and that globally relevant works can be made from every, even the smallest corner of the earth. Moreover, it supports our theory that creativity has no limits and is an extremely powerful tool. Namely, in that small village we manage to create design and campaigns that have already traveled all over the world and are well established on the market.” say Studio Sonda.

They would recommend entering awards as a journey into introspection. By questioning what has been done, the real growth of teams and individuals can begin. And, of course, winning is affirming for all involved.