Down to Earth Design

When a South African wine industry legend approached us to design a corporate identity and packaging for his boutique olive oil products, we accepted the challenge with the greatest of pleasure.


Our Challenge

Jan Scannell, former Managing Director for Distell Group Limited, and his wife, Marietjie are the kind of clients every studio hopes to have the good fortune of working with at least once – salt of the earth individuals who enjoy working with you as much as you enjoy working with them.


The couple owns a boutique olive farm just off Route 62, in the Matjies Valley, a secluded haven with a luscious microclimate in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountain Range, just 16 km from Calitzdorp. The farm is their pride and joy and it is here that they produce small volumes of olives and olive oil, which they sell only on the farm.


The olive oil has its own very specific flavour and aroma characteristics – the result of the unique terroir and olive cultivars.

The farm is also home to four self-catering cottages, all of which are steeped in history, and have been lovingly and authentically restored. Spectacular mountain views, together with the mixed farming activities of the valley, offer guests a tranquil setting in which to relax and unwind.


When Jan and his wife approached us, it was with an open brief to create a corporate identity for Middelplaas and the Matjiesvlei cottages, as well as packaging for their olives and olive oil. With the farm being so close to their hearts, the project was a very personal one and from the start, they included their children in the decision-making process. The Scanell’s had just two requests: 1) that the CI capture something of a vintage South African feel and 2) that they be able to apply the packaging to the bottles themselves, as every part of the process is handled on the farm.


Our Solution

Given the farm’s history and its location in the Klein Karoo, which offers a truly unique South African experience, we decided on a traditional design with a strong earthy feel. In line with this direction, illustration was the perfect visual choice, and we set about creating an element that would reflect the beauty of the area and the farm’s produce. While we initially explored a handwritten font for the CI, it felt too feminine for the rustic earthiness of the illustration, and we decided instead to echo the illustrative direction in the lettering by creating an outline that traced the path of our chosen font.

The Capsule Design

While our design carried an intended handcrafted feel, it was important that it also convey a sense of elegance in line with the boutique nature of the olive products. In this instance, elegant meant following the ‘less is more’ principle and we decided on a simple, uncluttered capsule design. We illustrated the olives from above to ensure the correct perspective, then created an icon of the logo which sat in the middle of the capsule, with the full name of the farm sitting below it. Finally, we added in the wording, Est. 1821, to reflect the farm’s rich history.