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SB meets… Dom Burke, Knockout

The founder and creative director of creative design agency Knockout discusses the power of technology in creating sustainably‐led, premium designs.

Knockout founder Dom Burke
Dom Burke, founder and creative director of Knockout

What sets Knockout apart from other design agencies?

Knockout exists for one purpose: to create stunning designs for the spirits industry. Our team is an agile creative force – highly specialised, experienced, and passionate about the art of spirits design. Drawing from my background in 3D design, technical creativity is ingrained within the very fabric of our agency’s culture.

How do you create luxury packaging designs?

When crafting designs in the luxury space, where subtlety and refinement reign, we prioritise the art of conjuring intrigue that captivates and entices consumers to explore further. Our aim is to provide a multi‐ sensorial experience with the brand, drawing consumers to see, touch, and interact with the design, unveiling hidden elements of delight that resonate on a deeper emotional level.

With meticulous attention to detail, we ensure that every aspect of the design exudes effortlessness and authenticity, avoiding any sense of contrivance. In the realm of spirits, we embrace the philosophy that less is more, enabling the choice of materials and subtle detailing to work their magic.

What tech do you use to develop better solutions for creative impact?

All technology serves as a tool in the hands of our creative team. Through AI‐assisted image generation we can precisely craft visual territories that capture the essence of our ideas. The true magic happens when our skilled human designers take the reins, transforming these generated images and themes into tangible design concepts.

In addition to AI, we harness augmented reality (AR). With AR, brands can delve deeper into their storytelling, offering interactive experiences, incorporating games, and even providing virtual tours of distilleries. Furthermore, our team seamlessly integrates CGI early in the process as a potent visual tool. This allows us to bring concepts to life in rich detail long before they materialise physically. This significantly enhances our clients’ understanding of the design’s potential.

Knockout is using leading technology to create forward-thinking designs

How has sustainability shaped your work?

Energy consumption plays a pivotal role in shaping design choices. For instance, the shipping of empty gift boxes, only to be filled at a different location and shipped back, has become economically, environmentally, and ethically questionable. Consumers are no longer willing to be part of such wasteful cycles.

As energy costs rise, brands are seeking to reduce the weight and volume of glass. By refining bottles to utilise less glass, we not only support sustainability but also cut down on energy consumption during production. Balancing sustainability with premiumisation presents a crucial decision for brand owners, prompting us at Knockout to view this challenge as an opportunity for innovation. We closely track new technologies, eagerly anticipating the moment when they become economically viable and sustainable for large‐scale production, positioning ourselves at the forefront of these transformative advances.

Knockout Monkey Shoulder
Knockout worked on a limited edition gift pack for Monkey Shoulder

Among the exciting examples is the technical advances of moulding organic materials. This innovation has the potential to revolutionise secondary packaging design, enabling designers to shape and form paper substrates into rigid, protective, and visually stunning designs.

How has at-home drinking influenced spirits packaging?

An example is our work on a limited edition Monkey Shoulder gift pack. We designed the lid of the tube to double as a cocktail strainer, an essential tool for any home bar. Its versatile design allows it to fit any glass consumers have at home, and its durable stainless‐steel construction ensures longevity. Thoughtful and creative packaging like this enhances the at‐home drinking experience, satisfying the growing demand for exciting and enjoyable cocktail adventures in the comfort of one’s home.

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