There are an enormous amount of bottled water brands in the world with seemingly hundreds of new ones popping up every year. Corporate behemoth Nestlé Waters alone own 51 brands and most of them look pretty much the same: a cheap plastic cylinder and cap with a bland paper or plastic wraparound label. But with so many small bottlers of (mostly) natural source waters trying to stand out in the crowd and win beverage design awards, many weird and downright fascinating bottle designs are popping up along the way.
Our good friend Steve Rowe is a fine waters market expert and runs the @dryresidue Instagram account where virtually every day he manages to find another brand. Here are 18 of the odder ones he found, and do check out his account to see hundreds more ranging from the ordinary to the elegant to the bizarre.
1. Kühlwasser - Germany
Kühlwasser means "cooling water" and is spring water bottled in classic engine cooling water canisters. This awkward "Listerine" looking water bottle from Germany compares human bodies to cars as they write on their website that "high-performance machines such as 10,000 HP motors or the human body only achieve maximum performance when regularly cooled". Thirsty yet?
2. Emerald - Colombia
Colombia, more specifically Boyacá, is well-known for its green emeralds due to its famous Muzo mines. Colloquially known as the “Emerald Capital” of the world. Naturally, a proper emerald water had to be created. It won't keep you hydrated for long with only 250ml content, but your friends may still be green with envy.
3. Enjoy the Rain - Tasmania
Tasmania is a small place, but the weather on the Australian island's east and west coasts could not be more different. Its west coast mountains catch the rain, so by the time the air makes it to the east coast it has been drained of most of its moisture. Leaving half the island super dry while the other half is super wet. This phenomena might be the reason for the many rainwater brands in Tasmania, with this brand having clearly discovered the perfect bottle design for the purpose.
4. Saltza - France
Why not enjoy your sparkling from a water jet? Saltza is carbonated water bottled in a siphon that some might confuse with a soap dispenser. At least it's a curious looking thing that will make the pouring a bit more entertaining.
5. Gold Water - Tibet
Are you familiar with the '1 Million' perfume from Poco Rabanne? This gold water bottle has some definite similarities. It's still a pretty unique bottle design, and its source is similarly unique Tibetan Plateau meltwater. The spring it comes from is situated at an altitude of 5,000 metres above sea level, in a region popularly called the “Roof of the World”.
6. Halen Môn - Wales
This "oak smoked" water is definitely something that stands out among bottled waters, but for less than flattering reasons. The water's yellow-orange colour and its disinfectant-looking bottle look more likely to be headed to a lab for results than a glass to drink. That said, we're being a bit unfair in that it is actually a product designed for cooking and flavouring akin to sauces, not drinking for hydration. Their smaller glass bottles also are more elegantly presented as this larger one is meant for more bulk purchases. Halen Môn has a rich, smoky depth and they encourage customers to be adventurous and freeze into ice cubes for cocktails or use in soups. Would you try it?
7. Evian - France
Global juggernaut brand Evian regularly creates special edition bottles, but this 2005 edition really stands out. The mountain shaped bottle with a red cap has strong branding, but looks oddly like an industry trophy award. Who won the 2005 Evian prize?
8. BULAQUA - Kyrgyzstan
We admit to slipping this one in not because it is weird but because we actually really like its outstanding design. The name of the brand combines the Kyrgyz word "bulak" ("spring") and English "aqua". Thanks to glaciers and high snowy mountains, Kyrgyzstan has huge reserves of spring water. The design illustrates droplets hitting the water surface, creating beautiful circles as they break the water.
9. Taiyen - Taiwan
I have to admit a bottle of shower gel is what first came to mind when seeing this brand. But on closer inspection and reading we discovered they use the shape of fish and Taiwan as elements for the bottle contour. Whichever way the Rorschach test comes out for you, the bottle certainly stands out among waters. The Chinese calligraphy symbol “Jin” - meaning powerful - is a key visual that conveys the main concept of the brand.
10. OGO - Netherlands
OGO Oxygen Water received the ‘Oscar for the best packaging’ in 2002 for its cute little ball bottle. The designer described the style as ‘simplexity’; simple in its complexity. OGO has appeared in London Fashion Week shows and in the hands of sports stars like English rugby player Olly Barkley. Unfortunately, despite the popularity of its design, the OGO brand is no longer with us.
11. Eau de Vie - Japan
"Eau de Vie" is a type of french alcoholic spirit and means "water of life". It refers to a clear, colourless fruit brandy, but a Japanese company decided that it does not have to. Instead they made this hydrogen-enriched water which they claim has antioxidant effects which suppress spots and wrinkles and can be used as an anti-aging measure. We'll wait on some science before relying on that. The container is a quadruple structure aluminum pouch that is extremely airtight so as not to allow the hydrogen to escape. When opened, the hydrogen is released quickly, so the 150ml size is designed to be drunk at once.
12. Zen Water - Japan
Zen Water is premium Japanese artesian water. It originates from Hakushu, one of the most famous water regions in all of Japan. We would guess that Mr. Porter, father of Jane in Tarzan, brings this along in the jungle. The sleek design looks a bit like a pocket hip flask in glass, but it's definitely not a common design for water brands.
13. AQUA INFORM - Germany
This funny looking bottle comes with a tiny little handle that gives it a whiskey jug look. It is drinking water, but they write on their website that due to its high binding power with harmful substances, AQUA INFORM is also ideal for removing make-up. Maybe the handle is there to gently pour the water on to make-up removal pads before enjoying a swig?
14. LUXWTR - USA
I would not be surprised if you've already spotted this water on Instagram because it's truly made for the 'gram'. The crystal shaped ampule-looking glass bottle is mostly meant for gifting or as a design accessory and not for everyday hydration. The hexagon bottles are filled with water and gold and are delivered in a sleek box of four. Talk about details!
15. Aquaman - New Zealand
When exercising, water need to be accessible and portable. This brand has clearly focused on that - and simultaneously answered the big question "what do you get if you cross a jerry can with a chicken?" Despite its nontraditional design, the plastic bag lets you bring your water to the gym and do a full workout without refilling thanks to its large size. Handy for sure, stylish not so much.
16. Luzhuoquan Mineral Water - China
Hello future world! This Chinese water brand figured that water should have legs to walk on and made a box on a crooked stool. The design yells sustainable living and Scandinavian design, both hot enough trends to win bronze in Pentaward in 2019. We actually don't know anything about the contents of the box or source of the water, but it is stylish.
17. Quizhi Spring - China
Look at this! Wait, what? We could not figure out what exactly the bottle is supposed to represent, but it does have a weird standout factor some find cool. This Chinese brand also won a Pentaward for its bottle design back in 2019.
18. Eskandarieh - Iran
A glass bottle. Shaped like a falcon. Filled with mineral water. Aiming at rich clients in the Middle East. Did I mention it's a glass falcon? Definitely one of the weirdest bottle designs of all time and the Instagram account will only reinforce the sense of vertigo. This strangely detailed glass raptor is from Iran, price unknown. But given the apparent niche marketing strategy, we can only guess that it's not cheap.
So those are 18 of our favourite oddball or interesting bottled water designs. With new brands emerging weekly around the world, many with fascinating natural water sources as well as packaging, it's worth following the @dryresidue Instagram account to see the innovations and sometimes the "better try again" attempts.