Killing the design brief


Being invited to create a bottle for Make a Mark is a real honour. This exclusive design innovation project was developed by three global industry leaders: Estal (bottle manufacturing), Avery Dennison (paper), and Kurz (foil). Each year twenty of the world’s leading packaging design companies are invited to create inspirational pieces for the wines and spirits sector which are then showcased at Luxepack Monaco and the 2022 Make a Mark annual.


Whether it’s a design brief, advertising brief, or anything else, our work is always more than skin deep. With full creative freedom, we saw the opportunity to create not simply a design, but a brand. A brand inspired by a question usually welcomed by drinkers, ‘What’s your poison?’ 

We wanted to give that innocuous phrase a playful sense of ambiguity, and to blur the lines between pleasure and pain. 

“It’s the kind of job that makes you realise what a great team you have.”

Jim, ECD & Founder


The team found inspiration in the ominous world of vintage poison bottles, with their sinister shapes and intriguing choices of cobalt blue. Victorian aesthetics influence several of our design cues. 

Finding a brand narrative was essential to everything. And we soon found a chilling tale that poured fear into the soul: the infamous Pimlico Poisoning Mystery of the 19th Century, where Adelaide Bartlett was bizarrely acquitted of murdering her husband. From here, Bartlett’s “Final Nail” Vodka was ready to cause a stir.

To accentuate the first unsettling taste on the lips, we chose a strong, high-percentage vodka as their modern poison. We needed to combine the potency of the past with modern-day elements. Sharpened ridges interrupt the smooth glass, creating an intentional sense of disorientation and a tactile warning to handle with care. The distinct blue is juxtaposed with hints of a pewter nail to create a visual conflict. While the sculpted glass and typefaces are modern, the meticulous graphic detailing and filigree are reminiscent of another era.

Then there are the characterful moments of discovery. “What’s your Poison?” ominously decorates each side of the bottle. The classic skull is accompanied by the final nail illustration. A warning “X” is placed off-centre, like a cautionary stamp. The unsubtle brand positioning, “Handmade with Malice,” is embossed into the glass and hot stamped on the lid. An aged holographic mugshot of the villainous Adelaide Bartlett stares coldly from the bottle’s base — a slight turn of hand and her face becomes a haunting skull. And then, the coup de grâce of the playful design is an actual nail hammered crudely into the lid — a fitting end for those who dare to take a sip.

“Partnering up together on the recent Make a Mark project made us realise first-hand, what a lovely team of talented people Black Eye are.”

Martin Crann, Avery Dennison Corporation

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