Like many of the greats, the iconic Absolut Vodka bottle came about by chance. Gunnar Broman was strolling Stockholm's Gamla Stan (Old Town) when he chanced upon an old medicine bottle standing on the shelves in an antique shop.
This bottle was nothing particularly special; its form, while simple and functional, had been unchanged for much of its working life. Indeed, looking back now, the bottle we all now recognise almost instantly had been sold from pharmacies for at least one hundred years.
Yet, Broman recalled how vodka had actually issued as a medicinal cure for the ailments in the 16th and 17th century. Forming the link between Absolut and this bottle was almost a natural line of thought for this man of the advertising world.
During the refinement and its transition from humble medicine bottle to symbol of prestige, there were of course many other considerations including actively avoiding large labelling in favour of leaving the glass form as clean as possible. The blue lettering still present today was chosen as it sat well against the clear contents, providing just enough pop to lift the branding elements visually.
Collectively, the subtle branding process was so successful that you'd hardly know its humble former life. Today, early incarnations of the bottle have become rather collectable, with the limited editions made by Olle Alberius at Orrefors being much sought after.
On a design level, Absolut's bottle has undergone a few changes from its original form from which it derived. Of course, there is the aforementioned lack of prominant labelling, yet this was a worry for the brand's early distributors who felt it might actually hinder the acceptance of the new vodka, magnifying other bottles behind it on the shelves; perhaps even blending into the background altogether - so the consumer would not be able to find it. Such concerns were in the end ignored and the issues described not a problem at all.
Due to its squat form, the bottle's neck was drawn out in length to give it extra height, while the silver plastic cap eliminated breakages and sediment, a problem with the cork alternatives more widely used at the time it was launched. The neck of the stem was thickened slightly to add strength both aesthetically and visibly. Another area reinforcement was needed was with the bottle itself, a result of being wider in diameter than most regular bottles. To do so, the designers increased the thickness of the domed 'punt'; something which resulted in the bottle feeling more hand-blown.
The Absolut name was drawn in Futura, and today has featured in over 1500 different advertising campaigns all starring the bottle in various guises and monikers. An Absolut design classic if you will.