Superunion crafts an “ode to farming families” for Agricola Dargenio

The olive oil brand’s packaging uses hand illustrations to contrast the physicality of farming with the delicacy of its products.

Superunion has created the brand identity and packaging for Italian olive oil producer Agricola Dargenio’s new range, Padre, with a hand script signature and split-label illustration.

The studio has worked with the family-owned company since 2018 when it created a limited-edition packaging range called Figlia, meaning daughter in Italian, to celebrate the family’s new female commercial brand founder and CEO Emanuela Dargenio. At the time, the brand had just launched and was not ready for a full rebrand, but Agricola Dargenio revisited the idea, tasking Superunion with elevating the rest of the brand, particularly its main product line, Padre.

Superunion design director Gianluca Crudele puts Figlia’s success down to how the design communicated the brand narrative. He says that the challenge with Padre was “to identify a story in line with the sentiment of Figlia” while also making it unique to the product.

Contrast became the “visual metaphor” for the brand, realised through a “rough style” sketch depicting a hand and a “delicate, more refined” olive branch illustration, says Crudele. At the intersection of the hand and the olive branch, the label has been intentionally misaligned and has a “ripped” edge, to reinforce this contrast.

The identity aims to tell the story of the Dargenio family’s work being under-appreciated until the granddaughter’s belief in their produce allowed it to be transformed into a fine product and a successful commercial brand. The sketch seeks to rectify perceptions of farmers as being of a lower social status, instead portraying them as enduring, according to Crudele. He explains how “the rough hand of Emanuela’s father became a symbol of metamorphosis, mastery and connection to the land”.

The family-driven nature of the identity is bolstered by a hand-drawn signature, which is “a personal mark of the maker”, says Crudele, with the brand’s tagline “As One With the Olive” aiming to further convey a connection to the land.

When Superunion created Figlia, the hand script used for the logo was chosen to link the brand to Emanuela. For Padre, the studio asked her father Giuseppe, to write the word, which means father in Italian, by hand, which then became the logo on the label. Choosing a secondary serif font called Lora, which has roots in calligraphy, helped to mimic “the same sense of contrast expressed by the illustration”, says Crudele.

Superunion commissioned photographer Scott Kimble – who also worked on the Figlia project – to continue this idea of contrast through the brand imagery, “while still retaining a certain familiarity” to previous Agricola Dargenio photography. Playing with shadows and different props produced “a muted atmosphere” and added depth, says Crudele, which helped to “elevate the bottle presentation”.

As well as redesigning the label and bottle for Padre and “devising a system to expand it into a new range of aromatic oils”, Crudele says that Superunion also had to “elevate the Agricola Dargenio master brand to become the umbrella of the different product lines”.

Since the launch of Figlia, Crudele says that Agricola Dargenio had been “moving on a new trajectory”, which the previous master brand did not line up with. “When redesigning the master brand, we simply extended the visual principles established for Figlia to the whole brand, although being careful to make the brand aesthetic more gender neutral so it becomes possible to host a wider variety of product brands”, Crudele explains.

Superunion also redesigned the ecommerce alongside local partner Hiss Media.

One of the more challenging aspects of the project was sourcing the bottle, as supply chains in southern Italy have been “profoundly affected” by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, according to Crudele. “This uncertainty led to multiple changes in design, from bottle details to printing techniques, to the idea of not having a paper label at all”, he adds.

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