With a classic cylindrical bottle, Voss artesian water from Norway is the latest must-have for thirsty diners and revellers at the UK's top restaurants, bars and hotels.
“A sip of Voss is like drinking fresh air,” the company claims, and consumers across the UK are loving it. And what great times it is for bottled water these days – according to statistics, sales of bottled water on the British Isles increased by nearly 50% between 2000 and 2004. Last year it rose another 5.3% to 2,170 million litres – that is nearly £1,600 million in retail sales. Over half of adults in the UK are drinking bottled water and sales are forecasted to rise at an annual rate of 6-8% to almost 3,000 million litres by 2010. The outlook for Norwegian artesian water is promising.
So what’s artesian water? Well, it’s water collected from a confined, underground aquifer - a water-bearing, impermeable layer of rock, sand or ice. When tapped into, the aquifer is pressurised enough to mallow water to rise up naturally through the ground without the use of mechanical pumps. Because the water is protected by this impermeable layer, it does not come into contact with the air or other pollutants. Voss artesian water comes from an aquifer in the pristine nature in southern Norway, protected from pollutants by layers of rock and ice, claimed to be producing pure water unlike any other. The water boasts a low mineral content and is free of sodium, and it's recognised as one of the purest bottles of water available with minimal TDS (total dissolved solids).
Voss is as much about its packaging as what's inside. Its cylindrical bottle, resembling that of a perfume bottle, has become an instantly recognisable trademark. The idea for the whole concept took shape when Christopher Harlem, who founded Voss with childhood friend Ole Christian Sandberg, was studying in San Francisco. He noticed that many of his fellow students were carrying water bottles as much for show-off as to obey their thirst. Together with Sandberg, he saw an opportunity to introduce pure Norwegian water onto the market and after extensive research they decided to 'provide only the highest quality water - to the highest quality accounts - in the highest quality package.' After a struggle to get the attention of creative design agencies in both Norway and in New York, they finally triggered interest from Neil Kraft, former creative director to Calvin Klein. Kraft and his team presented the Norwegians with numerous bottle designs before agreeing on cylindrical shape. The design was inspired by both the purity of the untouched source and by fragrance experts who define brands by developing brand personality through a unique bottle and overall packaging. Kraft said of the process: "We utilise the depth of our experience in understanding how to create a personality that differentiates itself though the entire experience and reflects the true essence of the brand."
Voss water launched in April 2000 after a period spent finding a manufacturer that could produce this particular type of bottle. The product slowly became a must-have at exclusive bars, clubs, hotels and restaurants across the world. Today, the two founders have gone separate ways, but are still close friends – it's Sandberg who runs the Voss brand whilst Harlem is in charge of his family business in Norway. Six years after its launch, the Voss adventure is still flowing into new markets, possibly due to what Kraft says is "a new way to think about water. Beyond refreshing...to beautiful."
A taste of Voss in the UK
You won’t find this ‘refreshing beauty’ at your local Asda or Tesco stores though. No, this bottle of water is only available from high-end restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels. Diners at celebrity restaurants such as Hakkasan, Zuma and Blue Elephant are served Voss to go with their fine wine – or on its own. The cylindrical bottle also goes well with the designer interior at some of the capital’s hottest hotels such as The Trafalgar, The Halkin, Baglioni Hotel, The Conrad, St. Martins Lane and The Sanderson. And if you suffer from hot flushes whilst burning cash during a shopping trip to exclusive department stores Harrods or Selfridges, cool down with this artisan water which is available at both stores – after all, it’s not every day you’ll be drinking ‘fresh air’ in central London!