November 21, 2013
The designer wasn’t credited, but after poking around for a while online I was able to figure out that its designer must have been Vance Jonson—whose “Dici” bra packaging design we featured a couple of weeks back.
What attracted me to the label was the stylized, geometric shape of the cat’s head, with ears and neck, each coming to a point.
Looking into the “Hap” pet foods brand, I was surprised to learn that this shape actually started out as a heraldic device that the brand used in all of its packaging.
What I thought was a particularly apt and artful cat head shape, was actually an abstract logo.
I had also assumed that the “Hap” brand name was short for “Happy” (and that “Hap Cat” was meant to remind 1960s consumers of hepcat), but HAP actually stands for “hearty appetite for pets.”
And while we have some evidence that the Hap Pet Food Company made cat food and dog food, birdseed appears to have been their flagship product.
“The friendly mutt on the label of this can of dog food suggests a friendly product. The shield form framing the dog’s face is used on products of this company.”
–Robert C. Niece, Art in Commerce and Industry, 1968
(Package design for Hap birdseed, after the fold…) (more…)
November 20, 2013
Tomorrow I’ll be featuring some package design of an interesting, but now defunct brand of pet food. Meanwhile, since we’ve been lately pouring over “Droste effect” packages, I wondered: “Is there some Droste effect pet food that I could serve up today as a segue into tomorrow’s subject?”
There is one, pretty well-known fictional example: “Bonzo Dog Food” from Russell Hoban’s 1969 children’s book, The Mouse and His Child.
While there are some “Bonzo” dog food brands that have existed in the real world, for Hoban, “Bonzo” appears to be a generic brand name, similar to ACME. (In his 1974 adult novel, Kleinzeit, Hoban’s protagonist is fired from his job as a copywriter after writing a television commercial with a smiling tramp pitching “Bonzo Toothpaste.”)
In The Mouse and His Child, empty cans of Bonzo Dog Food abound…
…an empty tin can that stood near the mouse and his child. BONZO DOG FOOD, said the white letters on the orange label, and below the name was a picture of a little black-and-white spotted dog, walking on his hind legs and wearing a chef’s cap and an apron. The dog carried a tray on which there was another can of BONZO DOG FOOD, on the label of which another little black-and-white spotted dog, exactly the same but much smaller, was walking on his hind legs and carrying a tray on which there was another can of BONZO DOG FOOD, on the label of which another little black-and-white spotted dog, exactly the same but much smaller, was walking on his hind legs and carrying a tray on which there was another can of BONZO DOG FOOD, and so on until the dogs became too small for the eye to follow.
Regarding the abundance of discarded dog food cans, Yvonne Studer writes,
…the dog motif connects all parts of the story: Bonzo, the tramp’s little black-and-white spotted dog resembles the dog on the label of BONZO dog-food cans that are standing and lying around everywhere in the book… The network of references is almost too tightly woven. A motif that is so much foregrounded invites interpretation. Yet, what does this “too-muchness of dogs” stand for? Is it loyalty, as the tramp’s dog suggests? But then the allegory has been anchored in a very threadbare “character”. Or did Hoban think of the idiom “it’s a case of dog eat dog” when he decided to represent infinity by means of a BONZO dog-food label?
Ideas, Obsessions, Intertexts: A Nonlinear Approach to Russell Hoban’s Fiction
While Hoban’s “Droste effect” dog-food cans may have started out as a metaphor for infinity, they’ve been metaphorically recycled by other writers to represent everything from AIDS research to quantum physics.
(Metaphor-as-metaphor and a video, after the fold…) (more…)
November 19, 2013
“Kitchen Klenzer” from Steadmans’ Corner
1. Droste Effect
First sold in 1908, Kitchen Klenzer is another example of an early packaged product whose illustrated label, in attempting to depict the product “in use,” wound up creating a recursive “Droste Effect.” (Named after Droste cocoa, which was packaged in a similarly recursive illustrated container.)
Kitchen Klenzer label via: Vintascope
A somewhat later version (late 1940s? early 1950s?) for sale on eBay for $18
(2 other things about Kitchen Klenzer, after the fold…) (more…)
November 15, 2013
Although “Laughing Cow” cheese is well-known for its “Droste effect” label, less well-known is the fact that early French cheese packaging in general is another product category where packages that include “Droste effect” pictures of themselves seem to be fairly widespread.
Most often these illustrations are of women holding the self-replicating package, but there are also packages that feature a gorilla or a gendarme holding the product—the product on which they, themselves, appear.
All of the photos above (and the animated gif to the right) come from François Bouigue’s website, “Le Tyrosémiophile.” (A “tyrosémiophile” is a collector of cheese labels.)
In French, the term for “Droste effect” is “mise en abyme” (or “mise en abîme”) which is means “placed into abyss.” Google, however will also translate the phase as “curveball.”
Not all of the labels on Monsieur Bouigue’s website are placed-into-the-abyss “curveballs” — but many more than I’ve included here.
Clearly the “Droste effect” has long been a traditional feature of early illustrated packaging. Detailed illustrations of the product “in use” naturally tended to include depictions of the package label.
November 13, 2013
A series of sculptures by Leo Fitzmaurice demonstrate what remains of packaging design when the text is removed.
(Much more, after the fold…) (more…)
November 12, 2013
One product category where “droste effect” packaging seems to be the rule, rather than the exception are compressed air “spray dusters” or “air dusters.”
Including a photo of a product “in use” is almost always a good thing for an effective package design—(for consumers to more quickly grasp the product’s purpose)—but to have so many competing products using a similarly recursive package design is, perhaps, not so good.
Here’s a product category where the best way to cut through the clutter might be to avoid showing a hand holding the package, which also shows a hand holding the package, which also shows a hand holding the package…
(A couple more hands holding spray dusters, after the fold…) (more…)
November 11, 2013
Photos ©2003 Cardhouse: Cachamai Diuretico and Cachamai Colagogo
Our catalog of “droste effect” packages continues to grow. At first we could find only three. Since then we’ve noticed at least 12 others. (This latest addition was spotted on CardHouse’s Flickr photostream.)
The Cachamai Tea’s “burrito” usually is shown carrying baskets of tea leaves.
At some point in the brand’s history, however, a clever designer decided that the burro should instead be carrying packages of Cachamai brand tea. And that those packages should show the trademark burro also carrying packages of Cachamai Tea, etc.
(More of the Cachamai “burrito” and advertising swag, after the fold…) (more…)
November 8, 2013
It’s worth remembering, with regard to recent trends in crafty, embroidered package design, that it all started with Whitman’s Sampler, whose cross-stitched “Sampler” trademark was first registered in 1914.
Wondering how this trademarked package has evolved over the years?
(A sampling of examples, after the fold…) (more…)
November 7, 2013
Top left: Spruce Tip Stout’s embroidered bottle label by Saint Bernadine Mission Communications Inc.; on right: “Cowmilk” tetra brik packaging with simulated cross stitching by Hattomonkey Studio; center: one of Peter Gregson’s Panon dairy cartons with “traditional embroidery pattern”; bottom left & right: Logan Wine label and bottle by War Design
Various beverages and various types of beverage packaging: all with embroidered branding.
The Spruce Tip Stout bottle uses an actual embroidered patch which can be peeled off and presumably sewn onto a beverage drinker’s garment. (See also: Lacoste’s Bottles with Embroidered Shirt Labels)
(A non-embroidered version of that label, after the fold…) (more…)
November 6, 2013
Sculpture by Leo Fitzmaurice:
Leo said he’d noticed the first one on some waste ground in Bootle, Liverpool, slightly discoloured owing to weathering but otherwise perfect. He then found the other six or seven, progressively more bleached out and denuded of anything but a spectral remnant of branding, in a short time in the same area. The Coke cans reminded me of a kind of still life, with deteriorating packaging rather than rotting fruit. Leo said he’d not manipulated or treated the cans in any way, that’s just the way he found them.
Phil Kirby, The Culture Vulture, 2011
When was this sculpture made and what’s its title?
That’s the puzzling thing. According to online sources the work has two titles and two dates. Some say it’s entitled “Fader” and that Fitzmaurice made it in 1999. Other say it’s entitled “You’re beautiful I think” and that he made it in 2008.