Box Vox

packaging as content

July 30, 2010

Bottleformball


HeathNash

“Bottleformball” a lamp by Heath Nash—multicolour bottleform sections on hand-made wire structure

Another South-African designer of recycled-bottle-lights: Heath Nash. A lot of the lamps in his “Other People’s Rubbish” series use multi-colored bottles, cut up into flower shapes, but I especially like this one, where the packaging parts are still identifiable as handles and spouts, etc.

Bottles

“Over time… by dealing with so many bottles for so long, I started to see them differently. I started to see parts of them as objects in their own right. Initially I had understood them as purely colour, translucency and size. I was essentially ignoring their most obvious characteristic—their shape.”

–Heath Nash

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

July 29, 2010

Tylenol Children’s Elixir

TylenolChildrens

Tylelnol1950-300x225 Another vehicular pack, this one from 1955—(the year I was born.)

McNeil [Laboratories] first sold acetaminophen in 1955 as a pain and fever reliever for children, calling it Tylenol Children’s Elixir. Appropriately for an antipyretic, it was sold in a package that looked like a red fire truck.

“A Festival of Analgesics” Chemical Heritage Foundation, 2001

And it also came in a package that looked like an orange school bus. (Or was that a yellow school bus?)

(See also: Medicine Cabinet Candy)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

July 28, 2010

Bread Loaf Lunch Box

BreadLoafLunchBox

From Gasoline Alley Antiques: a lunch box that looks like a loaf of sliced bread. (Available on their website for $400)

Conceptually similar to Robert Brownjohn’s cigarette package design that we discussed earlier this month.

Or it would be if this were a bread package. The idea being: the outside of the package serves as a precise diagram of the contents, almost as if the package were transparent. Except that—(just as in the food photography for some unphotogenic frozen entrée)—there’s an opportunity to show a more idealized version of the contents than would be seen through an ordinary transparent package.

And because trompe l’oeil packaging is so fun, the consumer won’t mind being fooled.

(Bread Loaf Lunch Box also comes with a package-related thermos, after the fold…)

(more…)

July 27, 2010

Mixed Ideaz

Mixed-IdeazBottleCaps-490

Following up on the soccer-related recycling thing: Andrew Dombuleni from Mixed Ideaz Recycling is another South-African crafter who makes things from recycled packaging.

“He is a founder member of the Mixed Ideaz project in Cape Town, which specialises in recycled material, beads and wire.”

from: Provincial Government Western Cape website

I like how, in the piece above, he’s put colorless, up-side-down caps on some sizes, and colorful, right-side-up caps on other sides. 

The pieces below, I’m guessing, are made from aluminum or tin cans. (Similar to El Anatsui’s use of flattened-out bottle caps)

Mixed-Ideaz 

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

July 26, 2010

Brandnomer

CookingDexterPhoto Illustration by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin for Cooking with Dexter

Just learned a new word: brandnomer. (brand name + misnomer = brandnomer)

The concept isn’t new to me. I’ve just been calling it by its generic name: “genericized trademark.”

It’s a dilemma for manufacturers. Good to have your product be so successful that its trade name is the first word that comes to mind. Bad when the court decides that your product’s name has become a colloquial term and can now be used to describe all products in your category—including your competitors!

When this bad thing happens they have a word for that, as well: genericide. In his column on Sunday, about homemade gelatin desserts, Pete Wells seemed to be bending over backwards to avoid committing genericide. (Hence: the crossed out Jello-O logos in the beautiful photo-illustration, above.)

We do keep at least one kind of powder in the cabinets: Knox brand gelatin. This permits us to make what I would call Jell-O, if Kraft Foods would let me get away with it… If I were English, I could call the wiggly desserts I make with this powder “jelly,” but in my country, jelly goes on toast. I am stuck with calling them “gelatin,” which sounds as appetizing as a Band-Aid.

Pete Wells, Cooking With Dexter: Wiggle Room
NY Times Magazine, Sunday, July 25, 2010

Which is a funny thing to say, since Band-Aid is, apparently, an appealing enough sounding name that—(like Jell-O)—it has had to shore up its defenses to avoid becoming a colloquial term. Cited on Wikipedia as an example of how to avoid genericide, Band-Aid revised their jingle to emphasize the brand specificity of their name. (Changing the lyrics from “I am stuck on Band-Aids, ’cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me” to “I am stuck on Band-Aid brand, ’cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me.”)

Meanwhile, I would agree with Wells, that “gelatin” sounds as appealing as an adhesive bandage.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

July 23, 2010

Some Soccer-Related Recycling

Africancrafts-bottleball2 While researching the previous post about polyhedral, soccer-ball-shaped cartons, I found the inset photo on right, identified on the PingMag site as “a soccer ball made out of empty plastic bottles.”

I’d recently seen an article in the NY Times with a photo of an African boy holding a homemade soccer ball. (More photos of homemade African soccer balls: here)

But this ball (on right) was no impromptu, functional solution—(at least not to the problem of wanting to play soccer and not having a ball.) According to PingMag this ball was part of an initiative to help South African crafters find business opportunities in connection with the Wold Cup games. Hence: “Some crafters got commissioned to create big soccer balls out of a whole range of different materials, like bead, wire, paper…”

While there’s no credit identifying who made the crafted soccer ball, it does looks strikingly similar to the sputnik-style pendent light below, made by South African design studio, Magpie Design. (See also: Dodecahedron-shaped Box)

MagPieLamp 

(More soccer-related recycling, after the fold…)

(more…)

July 22, 2010

Polyhedral World Cup Redux

FootballPacks

Top, left: Nestlé Cheerios—(1998 600 gram World Cup Football Pack) by Field Packaging and Mayr Melnhof Karton; top, right:  Anita Nyotosetiadi’s 2010 Weetbix Socceroos Conceptual Packaging; middle, left: Midori soccer ball stationery; bottom photo: Coca-Cola Football 6-pack (India) Source: Worldstar Awards 2002 (from Global Package Gallery)

I know. The World Cup is over and this post might have been more topical a couple of weeks ago.

I just couldn’t let another year slip by without comparing these polyhedral packages. So I’m coming back to the subject of World Cup, ball-shaped packaging, after the fact. And since I’m American, I’ll be calling it a “soccer ball”…

For package designers wishing to construct a soccer-ball-shaped pack, the underlying geometry is the truncated icosahedron (i.e.: an icosahedron with its vertices cut off). The die-line of a true truncated icosahedron shaped pack will be pretty complicated. While a normal rectangular carton has 6 sides, this box will have 32 sides! Adding in a number of tucks and glued flaps, your looking at a difficult and expensive printing and folding project.

SoccerballNet
Photo on left: from Electric-Eye’s Flickr Photostream

Consequently, carton makers will make geometric compromises to bring costs down. The Cheerios box and the Weet-Bix concept box are simplified soccer balls. Some panels of the boxes are square, they have no pentagons, and some of the soccer ball’s hexagons are merely printed. Still, they’re fairly symmetrical and look enough like soccer balls to appeal to World Cup fans.

The small black & white “soccer ball” with the writing is a folded novelty-stationery/invitation thing. What’s striking about it, is that the geometry of the dodecahedron shape and the printed soccer ball pattern don’t match up at all—although they could have been made to. (As a result, the pattern looks a little like the Gateway cow spots.)

The only one of the packs that is geometrically a true truncated icosahedron is the 2002 Coca-Cola polyhedral six-pack. Clearly demonstrating that the soccer ball was never a good shape to efficiently contain six cylindrical soda cans.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

July 21, 2010

Karen Shapiro’s Ceramic Packaging

Snickers

Descriptions of San Francisco-based artist, Karen Shapiro’s work often speak in terms of “every day objects.” As in 2006 when Neatorama said: “Karen makes super-sized every day objects in raku ceramics.” I’m not exactly sure why people want to use as vague and non-specific a phrase as “every day objects.” The great preponderance of these object are packages.

Whether packages are, in fact, the type of objects you’re mostly surrounded with on any given day, kind of of depends on who you are, what your life is like and what type of day you generally have.

If you’re a package designer or stockboy, then, yes, these are every day objects.

If not, then maybe Shapiro’s choice of subject matter is not so happenstance. The heading on her website is “American Pop Icons” and the connection to Pop Art is pretty explicit. One of her sculptures is of a Campbell’s Soup can; she’s done a Brillo box, etc. In Warhol’s day, however, these packages were contemporary and charmless. Most of the sculptures on her site—based, as they are, on vintage packaging—have a nostalgic charm that Pop Art did not originally enjoy. Not that she’s necessarily sticking to only vintage packaging. I’ve also seen a few examples of her using more contemporary—(i.e.: charmless)—subjects. Like her Trader Joe’s salsa jar. (To my knowledge, no one is citing that jar’s label as an American pop packaging icon.)

We’ve talked in the past about Pop Art’s role in making packaging more acceptable in the home, and perhaps because of this, Shapiro’s sculptures have found easier acceptance as home decor.

“Collectors tend to buy two and three pieces and then put them on a

kitchen counter or vanity, places where the actual items would go.”

Chris Winfield, Winfield Gallery

The crackle glaze does give Shapiro’s sculptures a very different vibe from that of 1960’s Pop Art. It tends to legitimize their claim as valuable objects deserving permanent counter space—as opposed to disposable packages. In some cases, however, the crackle effect may be a little alarming. If the jar is cracked like the windshield of a crashed car, how wholesome can the mayonnaise be?

CeramicPacks

(More of Shapiro’s work, after the fold…)

MoreRaku

July 20, 2010

Die-Cut, Package-Shaped Recipe Booklets

WhiteHouseRiceBooklet
Front & back of the “White House Cereals” booklet (via eBay)

Sometimes food manufacturers put out promotional booklets of recipes.
Sometimes these booklets are shaped like packages.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s the printing industry developed a new technique for producing attractive books. First marking an outline of a product or an illustration on wooden rollers, printers then inserted thin blades on the outline, which cut out shapes on paper. The end result was a recipe booklet that caught the consumer’s attention, helped with product identification, and promoted sales.

Vintage Cookbooks and Advertising Leaflets
by Sandra A. Norman and Karrie K. Andes
(via: Months of Edible Celebrations)

(Many more examples, after the fold…)

(more…)

July 19, 2010

Presidential Packaging as Op Art

PresPacks

NixonCigarettes(Not optical-illusion “op art,” but opinion/editorial op-ed art.)

Yesterday’s batch of editorials in the NY Times, about President Obama’s prospects for a future term, were illustrated with satirical cleaning products.

By no means is this the first time we’ve compared our President to packaged goods. These black & white packages above (by Abbott Miller and Kristin Spilman from Pentagram) hark back to an earlier book cover for The Selling of the President 1968 (on right).

One thing I’m puzzling over—the illustrations are definitely black & white in my edition of the the paper and online, but in Richard Shear’s copy, the illustrations were apparently in full color, or so he claims.

Either Connecticut is getting a much fancier edition of the NY Times than they deliver here on Staten Island, or there is some powerful, packaging/color synesthesia at work here! (Such that: we’re so accustomed to seeing brightly colored packages that, even when they are reproduced in black & white, our minds supply the color.)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design