My earlier posts about 1980s Australian product design highlighted some serious and important Australian designs from that decade. Now for something different – something that represents the good times and the rise of a food and wine culture in Australia in the 1980s – the Décor wine coolers.
The Décor BYO wine carrier was designed in 1978, but was the beginning of a range of products developed by Décor in the 1980s. It was very different from any other product on the market. It holds two bottles of wine or four drink cans, and the removable chiller can be frozen before being placed between the bottles to keep them cool.
The inspiration for the carrier came in 1978 when Décor founder Brian Davis attended an Australian Design Awards presentation, saw a canvas or hessian wine carry bag win an award and decided that his company could make a better one. The Australian practice of ‘BYO‘ began in the 1960s and dining out and wine consumption became popular in Australia from the 1970s. Prior to this plastic bags filled with ice cubes had been used to carry wine to restaurants. Sounds very messy!
Richard Carlson was employed to design the wine carrier and quickly developed the final design. The wine cooler had widespread success and was winner of an Australian Design Award in 1979 and the 1980 Prince Philip Prize for Australian Design. In 1980 the wine carrier was being manufactured under licence in USA, Sweden and West Germany and continues to sell more than 30 years later.
Décor decided in 1984 to take the same approach with a different product, the wine cask cooler. The idea for this new product sprang from the changing preferences of Australian drinkers – cask wine was becoming more popular and Décor decided to meet the needs of this new trend.
Again designed by Richard Carlson, over a period of two years, it holds the bag of wine from any four litre cask carton. The design presented many challenges for Carlson. He said, ‘fitting the cask bag into a box was like fitting a dozen pillows into the boot of a car’. However his ability to think in terms of mass, volume and space allowed him to translate an awkward situation into an elegant, useful solution which won an Australian Design Award in 1986. The cooler features a wedge shaped chiller bottle for the wine bag to sit on, this makes it easy to get all the wine from the bag.
This product indicates the popularity of wine sold by the cask, first introduced in the 1960s by Angoves Wines. Usually the cheapest wine available, the bag reduces the air contact with wine so once it is opened it lasts longer than wine in a bottle. In 2009 around 40% by volume of the wine sold in Australia was cask wine. Although now the cask is called a ‘soft pack’ and is often a smaller two litre bag containing the same wine as is sold by the bottle.
Along with the wine cask cooler Décor developed a new wine carrier, ice buckets and picnic hampers as a complete range of products. The company won more than 250 Australian Design Awards over the 1980s alone. In 1984 Richard Carlson was awarded the Design Institute of Australia Gold Medal Award for Industrial Design and Andy Schmid, graphic designer, was awarded a Design Institute of Australia National Award for graphic design. Décor founder Brian Davis, along with designers Richard Carlson and Tony Wolfenden were inducted into the Design Institute of Australia Hall of Fame in 1996.