Glenfiddich Barrel Art

johnson banks

In an unusual commission, the Glenfiddich distillery in Scotland approached design studio johnson banks to create a series of artworks illustrating the length of time it takes for its single malt whiskies to mature in the barrel. Following on from last year’s initiative (where five designers were each given a barrel to work with), johnson banks looked to the function of each part of the barrel to make sculptures based on the five differently aged Glenfiddich whiskies.

Prior to working with the barrels themselves, johnson banks made dozens of maquettes to help visualise the barrel staves and shapes that might be produced. When the barrels were delivered, the studio dismantled each one to look at the ways the constituent parts might be rearranged. They then took their ideas to master modelmaker, Wesley West, who would actually put the pieces together.

“Some [ideas] had to physically change,” explains Michael Johnson. “For several of them the basic ‘sculptures’ came back to us and we worked out the type on the real items, prior to all the cutting and sandblasting.

“All in all an unusually ‘physical’ project and a welcome change from the day to day of graphic design. Some of them are incredibly heavy too: the tree [created for the 12 year-old whisky, shown, above left] needed six people to lift it success-fully. Normally the most lifting we have to do is loading more sra3 paper into the printer.”

The two other artworks shown were created for the 15 year-old (top) and 30 year-old whiskies. The barrels were exhibited at the Studio Warehouse in Glasgow. See for more details on the project

Creative director: Michael Johnson. Design and art direction: Michael Johnson, Pali Palavathanan, Owen Evans. Customised typography: The Foundry. Photography: Kevin Summers


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