Winning answer to an Abbey’s prayers

John Kirkby, creative director of Design Futures Packaging with Father Wulstan of Ampleforth Abbey.
John Kirkby, creative director of Design Futures Packaging with Father Wulstan of Ampleforth Abbey.
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Designers from Sheffield Hallam University, who gave a monastery’s beer a striking new look, have scooped a gold award for best packaging for the monks’ premium cider.

The University’s product and packaging design consultancy, Design Futures, was called in by Ampleforth Abbey after the monks heard how the consultants had helped organic brewers Little Valley Brewery – based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire – with rebranding.

Design Futures is a commercially-focused consultancy, whose clients range from small and medium- sized enterprises to large multinationals.

The challenge posed by the monks was to give the monastery’s bottled beer a 21st century look, without losing its monastic heritage.

Design Futures went on to design a label for the cider and that picked up a top design and packaging award at the International Cider Challenge, organised by Off Licence News.

Creative director John Kirkby said: “Being awarded gold in this competition is a proud moment and illustrates the value of considering design as a complete visual identity rather than designing for individual products.

“The cider label follows the same style as the beer label but introduces a green background colour which alongside the gold foil blocking gives the product a crisp, tasty feel.

“The team at Ampleforth Abbey is a pleasure to work with and further products are already in development.”

Rosie Davenport, editor of Off Licence News and chairman of the judges said: “The International Cider Challenge is rigorously judged and winning a medal is a real achievement.

“Suppliers are responding to consumers’ growing interest with new styles while also raising production standards so drinkers experience ciders at their best.”

The award comes after Design Futures won a top prize at the UK Packaging Awards for the packaging it developed for Sheffield cup cake company Fancie, which one judge described as “stunning,” adding that it had “huge potential to expand into other categories”.