Founded in Miyagi, Japan in 1789 – the Tanaka Shuzo Brewery celebrated its 230th anniversary of crafting the world’s finest Sake in 2019. With more than two centuries of expertise, Tanaka has been producing award-winning Sakes; hand crafted using ancestral and natural methods, with the highest quality ingredients.
For the first time in the history of Sake in Japan, Francois Chartier, world famous sommelier and consultant on the molecular definition and composition of wines and cuisines for some of the greatest chefs in the world, has developed blends of Sake inspired by both his aromatic science, and the elegance, freshness and vivid acidity of the best white wines of the world, like ones from Burgundy and Loire Valley.
To achieve this incredible first blend, Chartier has worked with Tanaka’s toji, Morikawa san, a young and inspiring new generation Sake maker, to craft an innovative blend--multiplying, augmenting, and truly magnifying the aromatic synergy between the different cuvées of the blended liquid.
The Tanaka 1789 X Chartier Blend 001, 2018 Vintage, is a kimoto tokubetsu junmai nama-zume blended Sake.
forceMAJEURE worked closely with Chartier to develop a brand and visual strategy, as well as a design system, to represent the collaboration between the Tanaka 1789 Brewery and Francois Chartier, associating two very different cultures to create one unique and disruptive product and design. We wanted to bring to life the collaborating synergy of two Masters in their respective crafts, the juxtaposition of old and new, traditional and modern that goes into this groundbreaking product. In the brief, our clients were looking for a very modern interpretation for this brand, and we were given the freedom to break the rules. To do that, we wanted to understand and master those rules first. We began by looking closely at the two identities to understand the challenges of the semiotics of the categories, and to bring together a perfect blend of the two identities. We were inspired by the distinctive architecture of the Tanaka Brewery—the beautiful tile pattern on the brewery walls are an embodiment of the characteristics of the Edo period’s Kura architecture and a symbol of the rich history of Tanaka 1789. The pattern, when multiplied, creates beautiful grid patterns, which when sequenced create a hexagon--the modern logo symbol of Francois Chartier’s aromatic science and expertise.
The brand’s goals were to highlight on every level a partnership that reflects “Blending The Best With The Best”. After identifying the elements of the best of the best in our strategy, we looked at how to bring them together when moving to the design, and to create a perfect merge of very different products to create a new, innovative product.
From the tile grid pattern and hexagon, we saw that both Tanaka 1789 and Chartier featured black and white prominently in their own branding. The minimalism, elegance and luxury of black and white match the quality of the product: in traditional sake packaging, black bottles are reserved for the most premium Sakes. To illustrate the “best of” in the brand’s identity, we combined Tanaka and Chartier together in a cross pattern to create a strong logo lockup—using a common A to bring the two words together.
The traditional and modern juxtaposition also carries through in the structure. The bottle is a stock bottle from Estal, sleek in shape, which is used most often in wines like Riesling and Gewurztraminer, and is a nod to Chartier’s sommelier roots. The cork stopper from Vinolok is part of the VinoSeal collection, an elegant, minimalistic black glass t-top that fits perfectly with the slim profile of the bottle. The closure type curated for this new design elevates the sophistication and luxury cues of the pack. It is reminiscent of the traditional sake corks, but brings it to another level, using beautiful black glass, for a unique and modern feel. The bottle shape is unusual for a Sake brand, and lends to the changing perception for a more global market and wider audience—a shift that will go beyond this project.
We were given the freedom to explore without adhering to strict rules on this project, and to create a strategy, branding, and design system that was super modern, minimalist and elegant. In order to break the rules, we needed to fully understand and master them to bring to life what “Blending The Best With The Best” means. We explored fully the best elements of each company (Tanaka 1789 and Chartier), the skills and expertise that each master, Morikawa and Chartier, brings to this project, and the best processes that each used to make this unique product, whether rooted in tradition or new and modern. We also explored how to bring all of these elements and influences to the packaging we create for the first blend #001 to reflect that.