2017 |

Musical Notes and Hennessy's Blends

Dataviz, Branding, and Art

To promote the release of a special edition of their V.S.O.P Privilège, iconic cognac brand Hennessy embarked on their most “conceptual collaboration to date.” Paying homage to the “Master Blenders” who concoct their flavors, they assembled a team of artists to co–create a multifaceted branding campaign inspired by Hennessy's heritage.

Brief

The V.S.O.P blend is a mélange of 60 harmonious eaux–de–vies (a type of featherlight fruit brandies). According to legend, it was custom–made to suit the tastes of King George IV in 1817. For its 200–year anniversary, Hennessy contacted John Maeda—a lauded figure in tech and design—to dream up something special for the occasion. Maeda, in turn, reached out to guitar savant Kaki King and Accurat’s own Giorgia Lupi for help in designing a brand experience that both fêted V.S.O.P. and showcased the strengths of each collaborator.

“Giorgia is an illustrator who thinks like a computer, who works with machine-like precision but with the heart of a human being. She’s living in the modern world, using what her hands do best and making this wonderful synthesis, a precise blend,” Maeda said of Accurat’s co–founder. He encouraged King and Lupi to play to their strengths and get creative, leading to a sort of data jam session.

Process

On a trip to Maison Hennessy in Cognac, King observed processes of distillery and composed a musical piece inspired by the sights, aromas, and history of her surroundings. Its tablatures became the backbone for Accurat’s systemic analysis.

Following Lupi’s lead, we began by annotating each of the 200 beats of the piece’s measure with markings to represent the positioning of King’s hand on the guitar’s neck. Symbols denote the type of contact with each string (i.e. tapping, hammering, brushing). An additional, color-coded layer shows the strums and picks of King’s right hand.

Solution

The process bred a new, limited–run brand identity for V.S.O.P comprising two works of art: an original song by King, and a custom data–visualization taxonomy by Accurat. Lupi’s data–viz treatment of King’s piece was printed on packaging for the 2017 collector’s edition of V.S.O.P. and was used in print and digital advertising worldwide.
Our work at Accurat can best be characterized as translating numbers into images. We strive to reconnect figures to what they stand for: people, stories, art. With V.S.O.P, we used set parameters to codify an original piece of music and recast it as hybrid artwork brimming with illuminating details: King’s 200–beat score salutes V.S.O.P’s 200–year history; Lupi’s color–coding in chalk references the sediment–based calligraphy that distinguishes Hennessy’s aging barrels.
King's original, annotated score: the basis of a song and a data-viz work of art.

“Celebration of Mastery” full song.
The song's skeleton structure.
Initial chalk application.

Results

Communications from Hennessy declared the project its "most conceptual collaboration to date” and noted that it “marks the first time that a prestige cognac has ventured into the dimension of music and data graphics.” Describing the finished body of work, they wrote: “Music became analogue digital visualization: a feast for the senses of sight and sound, and a pitch-perfect interpretation of the smell and taste sensations associated with cognac.”
Team
Giorgia Lupi
Simone Quadri
Gabriele Rossi
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