Box Vox

packaging as content

November 30, 2009

Fractal Flip Top Box Dispensor

Another self-similar packaging display: Faisal A. Zakria’s 3D animation of a Marlboro cigarette-pack-shaped wall dispenser.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

November 29, 2009

Ben Sherman Royal Milk Tea

Photo on left; from; photo on right: from Analog Rock

A nice example of the “package-as-clothing” metaphor: this 2008 canned “Royal Milk Tea” promotion from the British clothing company, Ben Sherman.

While the term “buttoned-down” has come to mean “conservative and unimaginatively conventional,” back in the early 60s, button down shirts were cool & downright mod. 

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

November 27, 2009

Marlboro Doll Case


Vintage Marlboro Cigarettes Barbie Doll case from a 2008 eBay auction:

“Marlboro Cigarette Barbie doll case….back when it was cool to get a cigarette case for your child’s doll!! …you had to order this special!….can be used as a box purse…..all intact but shows wear and some pen marks … Plastic PVC covering in still nice with no cracks to the edges….made by the Philip Morris co and has patent # on bottom…..VERY fun find for your collection!!”


Aside from the issue of cigarette branded children toys… The thing I don’t understand about this item is, if Marlboro was bending over backwards to overcome the supposed stigma of its “sissy” origins, how come they came out with a little girl’s doll case? How does this jibe with the tattooed man campaign?

Another couple of photos, after the fold…)


November 27, 2009

John Norwood’s Cigarette Box Pyramids


Queens-based artist, John Norwood’s pyramidal sculptures from collected Marlboro boxes. Another example of an artist making use of materials at hand—which often turn out to be used packaging. (See: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) In this case, of course, the medium is also evidence of the artist’s smoking habits and brand preference.

Similar to Marlboro’s own puzzle 4-pack package and other packaging mosaics—(see: Peter Blake)—Norwood’s geometric stacking arrangements seem related to Marlboro’s iconic design. The sculptures follow the same diagonals as the arrow-like “red roof” graphics on the cigarette packs, themselves. Norwood’s fractal-like arrangement uses the packs to create larger, somewhat diffused versions of themselves in a manner similar to Tom Friedman’s reassembled boxes.  

(More, after the fold…)


November 26, 2009

Marlboro Mosaic Puzzle 4-Pack


Photo from Christian Kranich’s cigarette pack collection

Marlboro’s 2006 puzzle-style 4-pack: four flip-top boxes with gigantic branding, combine to form one over-sized hard pack. The backs of each pack had normal size branding graphics. (Came with a Marlboro cigarette lighter and was sold only at gas stations.)

(See the four packs, unfolded, after the fold…)


November 25, 2009

Be still, my close-packed heart


Loving this polyhedral bottle concept—(that I just saw yesterday on the dieline)—from the Lisbon-based design studio, Pedrita. Love at first sight, even.

Perhaps my love is that of a delusional stalker, but I somehow feel that it was meant to be. Did I not just last year lament the absence of any rhombic-dodecahedral or truncated-octahedral, close-packing packages? And now suddenly, here are truncated-octahedral bottles!

A package, shaped like this was preordained, I tell you. By me. (Still waiting for my lovely rhombic-dodecahedral packs, however.)


(More, after the fold…)


November 24, 2009

Hinge-Lid, Hard-Pack, Flip-Top Box


Now following up the Marlboro thread… (begun here and here)

I happened to learn that it wasn’t Frank Gianninoto who designed the “flip-top box” as Thomas Hine (and others) seem to infer:

“Perhaps the most radical part of Gianninoto’s design was the new physical form it gave the package… a cardboard box with a top that flipped open.”

Marlboro Country Was One No Man’s Land
By Thomas Hine, April 16, 1995, NY Times

But, judging from other descriptions of the Marlboro pack design process, Gianninoto was responsible for the graphic design of the package—not the structural design.

…At David Lyon’s suggestion, the company hired a new package designer, Frank Gianninoto, to respond to the Philip Morris call for “a bold, masculine-type package.” Production chief Clark Ames had recently returned from Germany with a flip-top box, hoping that it might serve as a prototype for the new Marlboro package. Initially the design team opposed the hard box, seeing it as a throwback to the 1850s, but the ultimately adopted it, eventually making rugged durability part of the brand’s masculine image.

Producing fashion: commerce, culture, and consumers
By Regina Lee Blaszczyk

Delving a little deeper, what I seemed to learn was that it was Desmond W. Molins of The Molins Machine Company who had designed the structure:

The 1950s saw the introduction of the hinge-lid pack, which was originally invented and patented by Walter’s son, Desmond Molins, in 1937. The hinge-lid pack was a major step forward from the previous soft packs, which allowed cigarettes to be damaged, and was used by Philip Morris in 1954 to relaunch the Marlboro brand: it was instantly successful and Marlboro sales increased 50 fold.

From the Molin PLC website

(Looking in the online patent databases, I could not find the Desmond W. Molins 1937 hinge-lid pack patent. The patent drawings shown here are from subsequent patents, improving on the “prior art.”)

As a packaging machine company, Molins naturally offered a machine capable of making these new “hinge lid packs”—namely the “hinge lid packer” or “HLP.”

Archival photos from the Molins Tobacco Machinery site

Yet another version of the story of how Philip Morris came to adopt the Molins hinge-lid pack seems to focus on the hinge-lid packer machinery:

Desmond Molins well remembers the disappointment when the first hinge lid packer, which produced a two-row pack, was not well received. This type of packer only became popular after the chance sighting of a sample three row pack by a visiting Philip Morris representative who immediately recognised its potential.

World Tobacco
September, 1985

(Another patent drawing and a related video, after the fold…)


November 23, 2009

Sir Peter Blake’s Fag Packets


From 2005: Peter Blake’s silkscreens of unfolded cigarette packets. Partly an appreciation of vintage graphic design & printed ephemera—and partly a demonstration of traditional trompe l'oil, including as it does, the folds, wrinkles and frayed edges of the originals.

“…Sir Peter Blake's found art cigarette packets or fag packets as they have come to be affectionately known. This series demonstrates Blake’s belief that beauty can be found anywhere, even in objects that most would believe to be rubbish. The fag packets highlight iconic 20th century design and branding, a key component in the pop art movement. The simplicity of these pieces adds to their wallpower.”

from the CCA Galleries website

(Another photo, after the fold…)


November 20, 2009

Flip-Top Box: “Interesting and Practical”


From The Leo Burnett Company’s 1955 “Tattooed Man” campaign for Marlboro cigarettes: guy tinkering with his car—one of the plain-spoken, cigarette smokers whose rugged good looks and masculine demeanor helped Marlboro overcome its earlier feminine incarnation. (…as a brand that offered a red “beauty tip” filter… so your lipstick wouldn’t show!)

I like how, in citing his reasons for smoking Marlboro, this guy mentions the design of the box and even manages to makes package design seem like a fairly rugged occupation:

“… then there’s this flip-top box. I like things that are well designed. This box is interesting and practical.”

(More about Marlboro’s hyper-masculine ad campaign, after the fold…)



November 19, 2009

Jintan Pillow-Pack Pillbox


Jintan 116: a recent packaging “refresh” for Morishita Jintan’s traditional Japanese “mouth refresher” pills. They use a pillow-pack-shaped, pill-dispensing “pillbox”—(patented in 1978 by Noboru Yoshimoto)—which is, itself, contained in a packet.

PacketsPillboxOn left: packets from Fronterpeed’s Flickr Photostream; on right: pill-dispensing pack from Amorimur’s Flickr Photostream

(More Jintan packaging, after the fold…)


November 18, 2009

Anthro-Packs on Parade

More to add to our anthropomorphic packaging collection: a 1948 television commercial for Rheingold Beer with bottles and cans as musicians in a marching band. (via: The Prelinger Archive)

(Also featuring a “packaging train” for our vehicular packaging collection.)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

November 17, 2009

where there’s life…


A few things about this album cover:

1. It’s a “droste effect” package. Pictured within the scene on this album cover—(as with the old Droste brand cocoa box)—is the album cover, itself. (Only one iteration for some reason.)

2. It’s another example of Budweiser’s audiophile marketing. (See: Bud Light Speaker Box.) Having sponsored this 1960 Russ David recording, they featured their beverage packaging (a bottle) on the album cover.

3. Its title track is a jazzy version of their 1950s jingle, “Where There’s Life, There’s Bud.”

(MP3 via: Schadenfreudian Therapy) The other songs on the LP all have the word “life” in their title, (predating a similarly linguistic concept album, “i” by Magnetic Fields, in which every song begins with the letter, i).

(Additional ephemeral evidence, after the fold…)