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Heineken Future Bottle Design Challenge 2013: Remix Our Future

The second annual competition encourages designers to embrace the company's 140th anniversary as inspiration

by Largetail in Design on 04 December 2012

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After the success of last year's inaugural bottle redesign challenge—which saw over 30,000 entries from more than 140 countries—Heineken today launches its second annual global bottle design competition. This year, in celebration of their 140th anniversary, the iconic beer company opens the doors to its rich history of iconic items in their expansive archive, giving designers creative freedom to explore and work with nearly 250 unique items and images as design inspiration for the bottle of the future.

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The challenge gives aspiring creatives the opportunity to have their own design appear worldwide on a limited edition Heineken bottle in 2013. The bottle will come in a gift box remixed by pioneering graphic designer Joshua Davis and inspired by the winning design. Sitting alongside Davis on the judges pannel is CH's very own Evan Orensten, returning for a second year along with Mark Dytham of PechaKucha and Heineken's Global Head of Design Mark van Iterson.

Central to the online toolkit is the physical archive in Amsterdam. Accessible by invitation only, this in-depth collection is protectively looked after by Heineken's in-house historians. Heineken's Global Head of Design Mark van Iterson opened the archive doors to us for an exclusive viewing of some of the treasures stored away in the historic original brewery, giving a first hand account of the material used by the design team to create new products and the source of the images that are being provided to all Heineken Future Bottle Design Challenge 2013 participants.

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Inconspicuous from the exterior, the archived items are carefully stored in these giant shelving units on tracks. Van Iterson revealed corridor after corridor of Heineken history with exuberance. "Just to understand where things come from…I think that positions you the best to create any future work. It is true for the design work we do, and also true for the whole brand."

Understanding this past is central to the brewery itself. Originally built in 1867, the building has been transformed to include an interactive and inclusive space for all consumers, brand fans and the curious alike to learn more about the Dutch beer's worldwide past.

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The building today is called the Heineken Experience. Standing as a functioning brewery based in the heart of Amsterdam, it welcomes roughly 600,000 visitors per year. The Heineken Experience provides information on the heritage of the brand as well as current innovations and trends the brand is setting today. One might even say innovation is synonymous with the brand's heritage at Heineken, with the brand often beating out other competitors in the game of firsts. It was the first beer to ever be bottled in the now iconic green-glassed bottle as well as being one of the original exporters of beer to the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge. It was even the very first beer to come ashore in America after the courts repealed the prohibition amendment in 1933 (Heineken reportedly had ships offshore just waiting for the word "go"). You can clearly see van Iterson's love and loyalty as he recounts these facts embedded in his mind. He flashes a big smiles as he says, "It's the Dutch entrepreneurial spirit."

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These are just some of the facts that one can discover about Heineken and its past along the labyrinth of winding rooms and hallways of the brewery. The archive hidden above takes you even further inside. Tucked up in the recesses of this iconic building, historian Annesietske Stapel has been busy locating, acquiring, cataloging, and preserving as much Heineken history as possible. Stressing the importance of heritage within the conception of progress, van Iterson explains how "One of the first things that we do when coming up with any new design is to dive into the archives…you need to analyze which elements are strong."

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Although these rooms are not open to the public due to the fragility of the items they store, van Iterson always recommends people do research there when possible. "I always encourage people to go there. It's only available by appointment and the company needs to approve the people that go in there to do their research."

An example of someone that did have access is young Dutch fashion designer Bas Kosters. One of the first items van Iterson pointed out was Kosters' specially designed contemporary hoodie. Van Iterson explains, "He's a very avant-garde guy. He used some funky graphic image from the 1950s and made a pattern out of that to create the fabric for this hoodie." For van Iterson, these spaces have a special resonance because it is where he got his first real involvement with the brand.

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As he holds up a 100 year old green, embossed Heineken bottle, van Iternson reminisces, "I think I was 24 or 25 when I joined a design company and Heineken became one of our clients. That was almost 20 years ago, and I had the opportunity to spend several days within this archive here to understand simple things. Why? Where does this green come from? What's the meaning of the star? Why is that shape oval?"

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"Now, that feels like an extremely luxurious period—I just started and had so much time to go through everything. And still I think I benefit from that," van Iterson continues. Perhaps this is a part of why he and the Heineken team have decided to put much of the design history of the brand online for the benefit of the designers of its Heineken Future Bottle Design Challenge.

From original glasses that served Heineken in Amsterdam during the 1890s to original advertising paintings for the "Bier zoals Bier behoeld is" campaign used in the Netherlands in the early 1990s, these vaults carry within them a whole other sort of history to the Heineken name—a history that helps give clues to new designers as to where the brand came from yesterday and where it is headed today.

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Hence the competition's title "Remix The Future." For the first time, designers outside of the company will be able to use the archive of historic design, branding, and creativity to artfully deconstruct, reinterpret, and remix design into the future. Visit the Heineken Future Bottle Design Challenge for entry details. The deadline to enter is 1 March 2013.

For more looks at the online and physical archives see the slideshow.

Archive images by Andrea DiCenzo

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