Interview with Ruska, Martín Associates, 2022 Sustainable Design Platinum Winner

Interview with Ruska, Martín Associates, 2022 Sustainable Design Platinum Winner

design agency

We speak to Roman Ruska, founder & creative director at Ruska, Martín, Associates, 2022 Platinum Winner, to learn more about the agency and their award-winning works.

We speak to Roman Ruska, founder & creative director at Ruska, Martín, Associates, 2022 Platinum Winner, to learn more about the award-winning works and plans for the future. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself

RUSKA, MARTÍN, ASSOCIATES is a packaging and communication design agency specialising in the beverage, lifestyle, cosmetics, automotive, food, and luxury sectors. As a cross-genre agency, we translate our ideas into the appropriate media and channels so as to reach people with clarity and maximum impact. The agency has in recent years regularly ranked among the 50 most creative German agencies in the Page Ranking.

We have always been a very international studio and were certainly one of the first studios in Germany where the studio language was English. Why? Because it was very important to us to have a great openness for the design languages and design cultures of different cities, countries, and continents and to bring them together with an unbiased mindset to create exciting new combinations. That's why our designers have come and still come from all over the world — and Berlin has always been a place of longing for creative people who are looking for the extraordinary.

When it came to opening a second studio, it was clear that it was going to be in Spain. And this is for many reasons. The first is that my partner Francisca Martín is Spanish. In the last 15 years, we have worked a lot for wine companies, most of which are in Spain. Here in Valencia, we are now servicing many of these clients more directly and better, but we are also tapping into the very good Spanish design scene and Valencia is also our hub to South America, where we are also servicing more and more clients.

What is your area of expertise?

Consulting and ideation for companies, brands, and people who are looking for depth and strength and who have the courage to have an honest and independent identity. Nothing is more fulfilling than finding the core of a brand or a product or a service. Or to create it like an artist. ­­­Our main area of expertise is in packaging design, but we also focus on ideation, branding, and communication.

What is the studio philosophy?

The answer is actually a very powerful question: ‘What if?’ We are driven by imagination and vision and the power generated by clear and comprehensive packaging and communication where idea, execution, and image speak a new language. Strong market presentation is essential in the highly competitive German and international wine, food, and cosmetic market. In fact, the wine market is one of the most competitive ones in the world. The No. 1 challenge is to stand out. Be seen. Be wanted. Be unique. That is always our compass.

RE:INCARNATED SPIRITS, 2022 Pentawards Platinum Winner, Sustainable Design

Fortunately, there is no recipe for making good design. Consumers, markets, and tastes change far too quickly for that. Magic is always created between the now, analysis, logic, and a strong connection to the subconscious. It takes a very strong ratio and a very strong feeling. Our motto is: WHAT IF? That is the question with which everything begins and which can bring about great things. With designers who have imagination but also a great understanding of markets and target groups. Because only this tension between two different poles leads to magnetic products and communication.

You have won the Sustainable Design Platinum award in the 2022 competition. What is it like winning a Pentaward?

Winning a Platinum Pentawards was a great achievement and we were overwhelmed by the unbelievable response and feedback from the industry! But for us, the real achievement is the fact that we could take away the Platinum award in the Sustainability category. This shows that the name RE:INCARNATED SPIRITS isn’t just for show.

The packaging design was created with a 100% circular design in mind. It’s one thing to say you care about sustainable design, but it’s another thing to execute these beliefs fully. No corners were cut or compromises made in sustainability or the uniqueness of the design — and receiving the Pentawards Platinum is a very strong confirmation of this! We've gotten some really interesting inquiries from companies — and a lot of great designers have applied to the studio as a result. That shows how relevant this award is in the industry.

RE:INCARNATED SPIRITS, 2022 Pentawards Platinum Winner, Sustainable Design

Tell us about your winning project

RE:INCARNATED SPIRITS is the first distillery brand with a 100% circular spirit and packaging design, where everything is passionately and consistently reused, giving all elements a new life. The first limited edition – a set of 444 unique bottles – of RE:INCARNATED SPIRITS is named RE:BRAND #1, using the German word Brand (spirit).

The special thing about this project was that the customer had already taken a circular route with the contents (the schnapps) unconsciously and out of pure curiosity. It was clear from the beginning that we wanted to do something radically new that did not yet exist in the spirit category and industry: both in the design concept and the design language as well as in the production of the packaging: they should be 100% circular. In our current economy, we take materials from the earth, make products out of them and eventually throw them away – it’s a linear process. A circular economy is not only a wonderful system, but it also holds a wonderful future. No more waste is produced, we circulate materials and products at their highest value. The world needs a new circular spirit – in both senses.

RE:INCARNATED SPIRITS, 2022 Pentawards Platinum Winner, Sustainable Design

The idea of rebirth and the resulting name RE:INCARNATED SPIRITS with its wonderful double meaning was the compass for us. We use paper made from grape residue, and 100% post-consumer glass, and even the corks were handmade from champagne cork residue. The filling material to protect the bottle in the box is made from shredded old banknotes that did not meet the quality standard. We found this a nice commentary on our current economic system. With this project, it was important to us to show what imagination and consistency can achieve and thus create a beacon project for the industry and inspire others to rethink. And to make the beauty of a 100% circular economy a sensual (and tipsy) experience!

What part of the project did you enjoy the most?

The general creative process – how many ideas can come from one single idea. For example, starting with the Schnaps, thinking about circular, getting the label idea, getting the idea for the name RE:INCARNATED SPIRITS, then the cork idea etc. When you feel that everyone in the team is burning for this project, because it makes sense, because it's fun, and because the ideas keep getting better and bigger. And when you have a customer who is so open to new and disruptive ideas... Then you know why you have chosen this profession!

Gusto Rosso Series, 2022 Pentawards Gold Winner, Brand Identity & Connected Packaging

You have also won a Gold award with your Gusto Rosso Series, can you tell us more about it?

Working with Gustini, one of the biggest German online retailers for Italian delicacies, we redesigned their premium Gusto Rosso selection of tinned fruity fresh tomatoes from southern Italy.

Gusto Rosso is a line for sophisticated tastes and is 100% Italian. We wanted to reflect this in the design by showcasing this quintessential Italian flair. A core question for us was how to bring in the 21st century and reflect today’s younger generations. Combining traditional outfits with characters styled in a contemporary young and fresh fashion, we are calling out to renew and redefine Italian classics!

Standing out in today’s attention economy is no small feat, so we decided to go big and bold in color and style: Zampano meets Verdi meets miu miu – bringing together the drama of Italian flair, the sophistication and culture and the timeless and inherent fashion sense. All that is represented in characters that a young generation can identify with and feel inclined to connect to.

The architectural arch structure behind each character brings the collection of five tins together, with bridging arches between them. Setting the stage through this architectural element, the characters position themselves as if in an opera by Giuseppe Verdi – can you hear it?

Gusto Rosso Series, 2022 Pentawards Gold Winner, Brand Identity & Connected Packaging

What are you currently working on?

We are currently working on many projects but these two we are particularly excited about: One project is for two German women winemakers who have experienced a story that can really be called the story of the century. Here we are working on a communication idea that includes a campaign and international collaborations. And of course, a packaging series with which we would like to win the next Platinum Pentawards! The second project is the development of a large convenience and delicatessen food brand in the organic sector.

What measures are you implementing in favour of more sustainable packaging designs?

We are in very close contact with many paper and packaging manufacturers and always seek advice or discuss projects with them at a very early stage. This means that their innovations can be incorporated into our projects at a very early stage and our customers benefit from this. However, we also have an increasing number of customers in the organic and ecological sectors who follow technical developments very closely and from whom we can learn a lot. It's like always in life: a lot of dialogue leads to a lot of ideas and encounters are the best ingredient for creativity.

Gusto Rosso Series, 2022 Pentawards Gold Winner, Brand Identity & Connected Packaging

To you, what is the power of design?

Our clients are in business to succeed. Not for the status quo. And we are in business to ensure the success of our clients. The passion with which we do our work must also be felt in our clients, then the cooperation will be unbeatable and the results unique. We didn't decide to work in this industry to make "nice" or "pretty" things, but things that really excite us and the consumers. And that they can't forget. Whether they live in London, Barcelona, Singapore, or New York.

More about Roman Ruska and Francisca Martín, founders of Ruska Martín Associates

Francisca Martín and I are both creatives. Francisca worked in packaging design in Barcelona for many years before she came to Berlin, we met and founded our company 22 years ago. I myself have a background in advertising, where I worked for many years for international brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lufthansa, Kraft Heinz, and Villeroy & Boch. The combination of very strategic thinking and very design-oriented work certainly makes us unique.

Find out more about Ruska, Martín, Associates here.

Follow them on Instagram , Twitter , and LinkedIn .