Box Vox

packaging as content

October 29, 2014

Package Design: Dave’s Gourmet Pasta Sauces


Debby bought these two jars of Dave’s Gourmet pasta sauce (at Target) because she liked the design of the labels.

Some will say that, of all consumers, the design of a package probably influences purchasing decisions most of all in the demographic group we call “package designers.”  Of course, it also influences everyone else, to some degree.

The label looked familiar to me and checking the back explained why. [More about that further on...]


Part of a larger product line of pasta sauces (7 in all), the design of the label is originally by Jana Randolph. Line extensions and, I believe, some of the illustrations are by Lani Matsen.

At Target, the clean white backgrounds and colorful ingredients helped the Dave’s Gourmet Pasta Sauce labels to stand out on the shelf alongside of the busier packaging in this product category.


What was it about these labels that seemed familiar to me?

(Asked and answered, after the fold…) (more…)

October 23, 2014

More beer-glass-shaped beer packaging


Volksbier vs. Gold Mine Beer (more beer-glass-shaped beer packaging)

Beer cans that are designed to resemble glasses of beer have become one of our “pet” topics, but these are the first two I’ve noticed that are made of transparent PET (polyethylene terephthalate) with petaloid bases.

Historically, beer-glass-resembling packs first appeared as standard straight-walled cans of steel or aluminum which were printed with amber-colored “faux beer” illustration of bubbles, condensation and (usually) a foamy head. (See: Naked ACME and Bohack Beer)

Later there were efforts to make special beer-glass-shaped beer cans. (See: Heineken’s 1997 beer-glass-shaped can)

The two recent examples above, were designed by different firms. They have similarities and differences, but each won a 2014 Gold Pentaward.

(More about each of the PET packs, after the fold…) (more…)

October 21, 2014

4 Good Reasons for Injecting Bubble Wrap


Another feature of Michèle Beauchamp-Roy’s aforementioned “Brrr” vodka bottle packaging, that I wanted to be sure and return to, is her idea of injecting bubble wrap with concentrated cranberry juice.

I think it’s important to note that there are other folks who are also injecting fluids into bubble wrap for a variety of reasons, most of which are unrelated to bubble wrap’s utility as a packaging medium.

(4 of these reasons, after the fold…) (more…)

October 16, 2014

Golden Bubble Wrap Packaging Design


If the Michèle Beauchamp-Roy’s package design for “Brrr” transforms bubble wrap into luxury trade dress, then these gold bubble-wrap pouches are taking a similarly simultaneous high/low approach. Bubble wrap mailers would ordinarily signify something cheap and affordable, but being golden makes these bubble wrap packaging designs something fancy.

(Details about each of the three, after the fold…) (more…)

October 13, 2014

Brrr: vodka bottle w/cranberry bubble-wrap jacket


The winner of the 2014 Packplay Best of Show award, Michèle Beauchamp-Roy’s  package design for “Brrr” cranberry vodka does a number of things. Some of these things are purely functional. The thing of it being a vodka bottle with an integral cold pack, for instance…

Brrr brings together two great products in which Quebec has stood out: vodka and cranberry. The fun package in the form of a winter coat with capsules of cranberry concentrate can be frozen and be used as a cooler. The user can then pop the tablets into his drink and create a cocktail to taste and cold.

Another thing about Beauchamp-Roy’s design that’s sort of remarkable, is that she transforms a lowly packing material (bubble-wrap) into a luxurious jacket by injecting cranberry juice concentrate into the air pockets. In doing do, she simultaneously suggests cold weather & cranberries and deftly anthropomorphizes the bottle by giving it an insulated, parka-style garment.

(via: professeur Sylvain Allard’s Packaging UQAM)


The Brrr bottle has also been televised.

(A video clip, after the fold…) (more…)

October 8, 2014

The Bart Simson / Butterfinger anthro-packet


Speaking of anthropomorphic flow wrap packets, there was one of these “anthro-packets” that Nestle put out just last year, based on Matt Groening’s “Bart Simpson” character.

The Butterfinger anthro-packet was one of three “limited edition” packages that were part of Butterfinger’s 2013 “Who Laid a finger on Bart’s BUTTERFINGER?”* promotional contest.

The figural Bart/Butterfinger packaging relies on the resemblance of Bart’s spiky hair to the serrated, zig-zag cut edge of the familiar (flow wrap) candy bar wrapper.

There was also billboard (shown below) highlighting the same similarity.

Butterfinger-BartSimpsonBillboard Photo from Daily Billboard

It isn’t the first time that this resemblance has been cited.

An earlier Butterfinger commercial, entitled “Two of a Kind” (from 2000) makes pretty much the same comparison between Bart’s spikey hairstyle and the “easy opening” serrated edge a flow wrapped Butterfinger bar.

(a video of the earlier commercial, after the fold…) (more…)

October 7, 2014

Fruttolino vs. Frudoza (2 anthro-packets)

Frudoza & Fruttolino Anthropomorphic Packets

Two anthropomorphic flow-wrap packets: different product categories—same basic idea. Frudoza ice cream and Fruttolino fruit bars, each with character illustrations that transform this familiar packaging into something figural.

(More about each of these two package designs, after the fold…) (more…)

October 3, 2014

Name Sugar (名糖) Brand

NameSugarmeito-NameSugar-MilkToday we feature another Shōwa Modan bottle —this one for Name Sugar Yogurt— featuring children’s faces with hats. (Similar to Chichiyasu’s Chi Bow character (のチー坊) and the Hosho “Warranty” milk baby)

(Photos above, below-left & below-right are from; images on right are from “Yogurt Showa”)


The “Name Sugar” brand was first established in 1953 by Japan’s Socialist Party. (Cooperative Dairy Co., Ltd.)

There was an earlier “socialist” cooperative dairy movement in the U.S. (See: Consumer-Farmer Milk Cooperative)

meito-10-yogNice that the “Name Sugar” brand name includes the word “name” —  like “Billy Name” or brand-as-a-brand-name.

The bottle has red illustrations of a boy with a hat on one side and a girl with a hat on the other side. Both sides have blue type spelling out: “名糖ヨーグルト” which translates to “Name Sugar Yogurt.”

NameSugarCowMarkCan’t say who did the face illustrations, but the “NS” diamond logo was replaced in 1964 with the “cow” trademark designed by Ikko Tanaka.


In the photo on the right (from: ☆牛乳グラス☆コレクション☆) you can just make out that logo through the boy’s face., which means that this yogurt bottle must be from 1964 or later.

Photo below via: Ameba



update: turns out that I have the brand name all wrong. Although Google consistently translates the product’s brand name into English as “Name sugar,” I was wrong to trust it. (See Howard’s comment below.)

September 30, 2014

Art in Pop: the Black Acoustical Tile

Randy Ludacer's "Black Acoustical Tile"
Black Acoustical Tile, a 1976–1977 artwork by Randy Ludacer, recreated for Art in Pop (original version on right)

I thought the original version might still exist. I rifled through the boxes that I euphemistically call my “basement archives” — but to no avail. No matter. I’d been invited to recreate it, if necessary.

I did find some black & white negatives and a contact sheet showing the original version installed on a wall.

I also found a typewritten page with the heading “The Black Acoustical Tile” — a document that I now find a little bit embarrassing. An excerpt:

“… My justification for painting an acoustical tile is that it’s an architectural detail, subject to interior painting.  Justifying the selection of a color is as much of a problem as the decision to use paint at all.  What basis does a painter have for choosing one color over another? Can an artist “play favorites” or must color be an all or nothing proposition? In the “Black Acoustical Tile” I justify the color by means of an analogy. The color “black” is known to absorb light. What more suitable color to paint an acoustical tile, designed to absorb sound?”

In those days, typewritten pages were often exhibited, alone or alongside objects as part of the (conceptual) art. But not it this case. The tile was just hung on the wall without any annotation.

Which is good, because, looking at it now (37 years later) that typewritten page only tells part of the story.  Yes, I was a callow art student, espousing the use of functional objects as a way of making — or avoiding having to make — “artistic” choices. Not my idea, just a trend I was all too happy to follow. But there was also something about acoustical tiles that I just liked.

“Unremarkable objects like sound meters and acoustical tiles have as much to say about the ways that people understood their world as do the paintings of Pablo Picasso…”

–Emily Thompson, “The Soundscape of Modernity


illustration from Emily Thompson’s book, “The Soundscape of Modernity

1941 Acousti-Cellotex ad — for sale on eBay; starting bid: $2.97 (shipping: $9.95)

(More about the Black Acoustical Tile, after the fold…) (more…)

September 29, 2014

Art in Pop: Footnotes as Headliners

Malcolm McLaren & Vivienne Westwood’s “Anarchy Shirt” will be on exhibit at Art in Pop

“… an extraordinary package of compressed content

See: Hiroshi Fujiwara loaning Anarchy Shirt originally owned by Jon Savage for Malcolm McLaren room at Art In Pop

(See also: Package-Shaped Compressed T-Shirts)

3 members of “The Foot Notes” playing guitars: John Miller, Randy Ludacer & JD King (1976 – 1977?)

Continuing with my explanation of how I came to be included in the upcoming Art in Pop show at France’s National Centre Of Contemporary Art space Magasin in Grenoble…

The show is curated by Yves Aupetitallot along with John Armeleder, Young Kim & Paul Gorman and John Miller.

It’s because of John Miller that I have a piece in this exhibit…

“John Miller, who was born in 1954 in Cleveland, and lives and works in New York and Berlin. His protean oeuvre (photographs, paintings, sculptures, videos), enlightened by his prolific production of critical texts, has ever questioned the values of our societies, both in the global societal sphere and in the more specific realms of media and art.

His exhibition room will present an ensemble of documents retracing his musical career… Since studying at the Rhode Island Art School, he has been the member and occasionally the founder of diverse groups…”

The first of these musical groups was “The Foot Notes,” a loose confederation of members with divergent musical agendas.

A one-hit-wonder? Not even close. The Foot Notes never recorded or released any music, whatsoever.

Its members1 included: the rock critic, Michael Bloom2 and art students, David BowesJD King, me, John MillerMargie Politzer and Seth Weinhardt.

l to r: Bowes, (Bill Komoski & Sy Ross—cool, but not Foot Notes), Miller, me, Bloom (back to the camera) & JD King

The artwork I was invited to exhibit for Art in Pop, was one that Miller had remembered — a student work: Black Acoustical Tile.  If it no longer existed, I was invited to recreate it.

Cracks me up that I (a failed artist/musician) have somehow wound up included among luminaries who have had actual careers.  Still, it’s heady stuff to be remembered. Even as a footnote.

Next post: The Black Acoustical Tile

(Some footnotes about The Foot Notes, after the fold…) (more…)