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Our Heartfelt Gratitude To Giacomo Bersanetti, The Designer Who Taught Us How To Dress Wine

At the end of March, with sadness and pain, we learned the news of the passing of Giacomo Bersanetti, perhaps one of the greatest, most widely known and brilliant international “wine designers”. Giacomo and his collaborators have recently completed the restyling of Duchessa Lia’s labels which, starting from spring 2020, will be replacing the previous ones.


Born in 1957, Giacomo Bersanetti specialized at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bergamo, continuing his studies in Urbino, Carrara and Milan, where he met some of the artists and designers who, shortly thereafter, would have influenced the Italian scene: Silvio Coppola, Bruno Munari, Roberto Sambonet, Sergio Asti and Fabrizio Ferri. In 1983 he founded, together with Chiara Veronelli, Congegno studio in Bergamo, later becoming SGA Corporate e Packaging Design. His career enabled him to always be in touch with great personalities: Luigi Veronelli and his magazine L’Etichetta, the restyling of La Stampa, as well as that of the Feltrinelli series. And, most of all, it allowed him constant and numerous collaborations with the most important Italian wineries, towards which Bersanetti has always shown particular dedication.

Those who have known him say that he considered labels (which were mistreated, anonymous and standardized until the 1980s) as a vehicle of cultural and symbolic values, a means to get directly in touch with the essence of wine and the history of its producer. Each label must not only be treated in detail, but also designed to convey a message: even through very innovative and untraditional forms, thanks to the use of techniques and processes that winemakers would have never thought of, for they are not visionaries like him.

Duchess Lia also had the good fortune and pleasure of meeting Giacomo Bersanetti and his creative team, to whom a "refresh" of the labels of all still wines and Moscato d'Asti Docgs has been entrusted last year. A fine work, played on details, studied to preserve Duchessa Lia’s history and tradition, emphasizing the excellence of Piedmontese vines and the respect for its noble varieties.

To better understand his work and properly honour a great “wine designer”, we have interviewed Giacomo’s sons, Zeno and Luca Bersanetti, today art directors of SGA studio.

To them, to Giacomo, to his family and collaborators we want express our sincere gratitude and make them feel our presence.

Zeno and Luca Bersanetti, the on-going epidemic, unfortunately, has taken one of the most important and original "wine designers" present in the scene. If you were to describe Giacomo Bersanetti's creativity and artistry in a few words, what can you say about it?

We would describe it by enumerating some fundamental principles that have always characterized his work ethic: continuous and constant search for originality, extreme synthesis and attention to detail. Our father would look at every project with a creative attitude: no matter how bumpy the path became, his primary objective was to seek and identify solutions that would "distinguish" a label from all the others, avoiding the recurrence of consolidated ideas and overcoming the expressive saturation of self-referential graphics (as if clothes speak for themselves without any conceptual content). A choice that is also valid for all those projects previously handled by our own team, in order to avoid contemporary "mannerism". This approach materialized with a distinctive sign for each project; a brand, a character, a decoration, a tag, a texture, original glass, etc., elevated "to the crucial point of the dressing" with a specific purpose: to be able to communicate something "more" to the observer. Thus, the sign had to be summarized to the extreme limit of its communicative ability; each curve, proportion, composition, stroke and color had to be taken care of, up to the smallest detail, without leaving anything to chance.

Which lesson do you think would remain longer than his work? What has Giacomo changed in the way of conceiving labels?

We believe that we can answer these questions with these two fundamental lessons that we learned while working with our father:

  1. A project must speak to those who observe it, aiming to live forever.
  2. You have to go to the places where the labels come to life.

The originality of a label cannot be measured immediately after its creation and launch on the market, but only in the medium/long term. Its longevity is inextricably linked to its ability to "speak" to the consumer: to communicate a "story", a "narration", an "emotion" that goes beyond the first glance and remain in the memory of the observer, characterizing the bottle and making it recognizable wherever it may be displayed, be it a supermarket, a bar, wine shop, catering, restaurant or a pleasant family table. If a project is valid and presents content that is innovative, interesting or treated with due efficacy, as in the case of a restyling, then, even after many years, decades, or more, its original freshness, the detail that can capture the interest of the consumer and bring out opinions/impressions, will remain unchanged.

In his creative process, our father considered the direct relationship with those "places and people" narrated in the project to be fundamental: the territory modelled by the crops, the vineyards, the cellars and, perhaps even more, those who infuse their knowledge into the wine, the winemakers. All this was for him an inexhaustible source of inspiration, as it will also be for us who will continue his work. Furthermore, to ensure the achievement of the expected result, Giacomo was always at the forefront of the printing process between inks, papers, foils, noisy machinery and technical staff. Always present where the labels come to life.

Duchess Lia has recently completed the restyling of its labels with the collaboration of SGA studio. How did you work on the new proposals and which objectives did you want to achieve?

Duchess Lia is one of those projects that we have managed with extreme caution, since it is a brand with a well-established identity and that is easily recognized by the consumer. It was necessary to move within certain borders in order to obtain the best final result: an effective evolution marked by continuity. The restyling operation involved work on the symbol: the portrait of the Duchess has been simplified in terms of the design and the number of colours. In response to the greater attention reserved to the principles of environmental sustainability, the new monochromatic version has made it possible to eliminate the use of hot foil and, for the same reason, to utilize simple embossed linings for the basic products, replacing the gold ones.

The most important wines have been given a larger label format and a characterization that further distinguishes them: also in this case, a more complex frame system has been created without the use of hot foil but through an extremely elegant and refined dry embossing. In addition, these labels contain descriptive texts that speak of the individual harvests. The dressing of the entire series has been revised, improving its style, making it more contemporary and minimalist, and the readability of information, while maintaining an unquestionable recognition of the product.


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