Box Vox

packaging as content

July 23, 2014

Matchbook-style Package Design


Patented “matchbook style” packaging for a variety of products that are not matches…

Adhesive bandages, cosmetics, bookmark/page tabs, dental floss, condoms and mini CDs…

this vintage “lipstick sampler” (via: SoutheastByMidwest) appears to “match up” with one of the patents above

(More examples from the real world, follow after the fold…) (more…)

July 21, 2014

Cigarette Pack Shaped Matchboxes

“Vintage Mini Marlboro Box 25′s Filter Wood Stick Matches & Matchbox” (sold on eBay for $6.99)

While we’ve looked at an number of cigarette pack-shaped objects in the past—(radios, amplifier, doll case, flash diffuser, charms, crayons, playing cards, tasers, ashtrays & cigarette lighters)— for some reason we’d never considered matches.

While Marlboro appears to be the brand that has utilized this particular advertising medium the most, plenty of other big tobacco brands have also put out promotional cigarette-pack shaped matchboxes.

Top photo from the Secret Blog of a Mad Matchbox Collector; L&M and Camel pack matchboxes from CACDIVI Found Again Art Studio; Lucky Strike matchbox from Hazel & Wren

My preference is for cigarette-pack/matchbox mash-ups to be matchboxes of the classic “slide tray” variety. There are, however, other cigarette pack shaped matchboxes that go a bit further and imitate the “flip top” structure of the Marlboro flip-top box.

(Some of those “flip top” Marlboro matchboxes, after the fold…) (more…)

July 18, 2014

Ben Vautier’s Total Art Match-Box

Ben Vautier “Total Art Match-Box” 1965, multiple (photo via: MoMA)


We’ve featured other packaging-related artwork by Ben Vautier in the past. (See: Flux Mystery Food)

For our “Matchbox/Matchbook Week” he provides us with a nice early example of conceptual art’s declarative branding


Like Abby Hoffman’s Steal this Book, “Total Art Match-Box” is subversive to the institutions that supported its own existance. Self-referential and self-defeating, maybe, but whatever else a match might burn, it cannot avoid burning itself up, as well. Self-annihilation is just part of the package.


Vautier’s matchbox was actually contained in a larger box, “Flux Year Box 2,” a multiple put out by Fluxus in 1967. An edition of 100 copies was said to have been “planned.”  If things went as planned, we’d assume that 100 “Total Art Matchboxes” were made.



In addition to his edition of matchboxes, Vautier also made some matchbooks

(More about the matchbooks, after the fold…) (more…)

July 17, 2014

Ford Ranger Matchbox | Matchbox® Ford Ranger


Continuing with Matchbox/Matchbook week, we have two things…

1. A promotional matchbox, designed in 2006 by J. Walter Thompson, Malaysia.

Here, a matchbox’s sliding tray serves as a metaphor for the truck’s extendable cargo bed feature, with wooden matchsticks serving as a miniature load of lumber.

According to JWT, 5,000 of these matchboxes were distributed to potential “blue collar” consumers…

“While introducing it’s Limited Edition Ranger Extreme, a model with an extended cargo space that allowed for 30% more loading space, Ford decided it would be a good idea to highlight this feature. Question is, where would you reach the right audience? Research showed that many truck buyers are in blue-collar industries such as auto repair, construction and plumbing and that they tend to gather in specific after-work pubs. Opting for a medium like matchboxes could give the opportunity to both illustrate the product benefit and be useful to the target audience.

5,000 matchboxes were distributed amongst potential buyers at these pubs. On the box, Ford’s website address was printed so the curious could see what the truck looked like and book a test-drive. Over 1600 people visited the website, of which 450 booked a test-drive. 300 finally test-drove the car. The Limited Edition Ranger extreme was sold out a month ahead of schedule.”


a drawing from Horst Leitner’s 1997 patent for a “Truck Bed Extender”

(And since you can’t combine “matchbox” and “cars” without also suggesting Matchbox Cars….) (more…)

July 16, 2014

Faux Matchbook Safety Glasses Packaging


From Taylor Box: a promotional pack for Uvex “Ignite” safety glasses in the form of an over-sized matchbook.

“A perfect packaging metaphor, the Uvex Ignite Matchbox promo is really a deep tray holding safety glasses in a Printed SBS Folder that looks like a big matchbook!”

While the perfection of the packaging metaphor might be debatable (safety matches = safety glasses?) I like the faux strike plate flap and the larger-than-life photos of wooden matches on the side panels. (I was also wondering whether wooden matches in a matchbook were an anachronism, but as it turns out: no.)


(The box’s contents revealed, after the fold…) (more…)

July 15, 2014

Matchbox Pairing

Top photo from: AIGA Design Archives; lower photo from: The Secret Blog of a Mad Matchbox Collector


A matched pair of matchboxes:

1. Saul Bass & Clarence Sato’s 1965 design for Ohio Blue Tip Matches in a king sized slide box.

2. A more recent matchbox from China with similar design elements (photo of a burning match and “stencil” style typography).

(More about each, after the fold…) (more…)

July 10, 2014

Packaging Decoded


A (vintage) “programmed instruction manual” from the Marketing Training Department of Falstaff Brewing Corp.

The booklet, recently for sale on eBay, appears to have been set up as a quiz with right-side-up/upside down pages for questions and answers.

(Photos of inside pages, after the fold…) (more…)

July 9, 2014

3 Bikes with Bottles (two “Gazelles” and a “Ninja”)

Tony Cragg, “Gazelle” (found bike, steel rods and glass bottles) 1992

I don’t know what it is about finding matching pairs of creative works by different people. There’s a lot of this to be found online.

Sometimes it’s done with a “busted!” attitude, as if some previously unsuspected plagiarism were being exposed.

Other times it’s more like acknowledging the random coincidences of creativity. I’ve done a fair amount of this latter type of pair matching—the great-minds-think-alike thing. (See: Bubble Gun | Chewing Gun and Brancusi Toilet Bowls)

More often, I prefer to find three of kind — you know, because three examples are so much more persuasive than just two. (Although, I honestly couldn’t tell you what it was that I was trying to persuade you of.)

1. The bikes-with-bottles thing is like that. Recently featured some of Tony Cragg’s “bottles on shelf” sculptures. This picture of his 1992 sculpture of a bicycle with glass bottles sprouting from it, entitled “Gazelle” is something I’d been saving for a rainy day.

The bottle-festooned bicycle, Gazelle, certainly tips its hat to Duchamp and the first of his ‘readymades’, the bicycle wheel attached to a stool of 1912, but it is also unmistakably a work of Cragg’s own that bears the stamp of his sculptural interests.

Material culture: the object in British art of the 1980s and ’90s

Applying the “never-leave-well-enough-alone” principle to Cragg’s sculpture, I asked myself: were there any other, similarly appointed bikes?

(Numbers 2 & 3 follow in chronological order, after the fold…) (more…)

July 3, 2014

3 More Packages that Talk with their Mouths Full


3 more packages with a design feature we’ve noted a number of times in the past: mouth-shaped die-cut windows, through which the product inside is revealed.

A subset of anthropomorphic packaging, boxes like this, not only embody a character, they employ characters with open mouths which reveal the product inside—either as metaphorical teeth or else food.

(More about each of these packages, after the fold…) (more…)

July 2, 2014

3 Chalkboard Wine Labels


Another set of wine bottle with labels that you can write on, this time with chalk. (See also: Handwriting on the Wine)

(More about each one, after the fold…) (more…)