Box Vox

packaging as content

September 23, 2014

のチー坊: Chichiyasu’s recto-verso baby-faced logo


のチー坊: I’d read that Chichiyasu’s recto-verso baby-faced trademark was designed in 2007 by Yumi Yazawa and Koichi Sugiyama of Doppo, Inc.

Delving deeper into it, however, I’ve come to realize that their work on this mascot boy character for the Chichiyasu brand was more of a subtle redesign. The character, のチー坊 (whose name seems to translate into various English versions—Chi Bow, Qi Bow, Qi Fang, etc…) was actually created in 1953 and looked then very much as he does now.

Doppo may have made the lines of the hair a bit heavier and created the alternate trademark showing the back of Qi Bow’s head, but their most important contribution may have been in recognizing the quality of the original 1953 trademark, which had been replaced several times over the decades.


Doppo’s design for the lunch box Tetra Brik package is direct and appealing in a way that far exceeds the usual (and sometimes insipid) kawaii aesthetic.


Hosho-WarrantyMilkThe back of the package shows a clever use for their back-of-the-head verso symbol, using the objectness of the package to imply a three-dimensional existence for the two-dimensional character. (See also: Eye contact with packaging)

And yet Chichiyasu was not the only milk company to employ a mascot of this type.

There are numerous similar examples from Japanese dairy packaging of the 1950s and 60s, including a very similar looking baby character for Hosho “Warranty” brand milk.

According to the “drifting dairy industry” website, the bottle on the right is from “the early 1950s.”

Depending on which of those years it was manufactured, this bottle might constitute an earlier precedent for a milk logo of a round-faced child with unruly bangs beneath a peaked cap.

See also:  Shōwa Modan Packaging

September 19, 2014

Shōwa Modan Packaging: milk jar on cans & cartons


What are we to make of a Japanese milk jar on beverage packs?

It’s oddly self-referential when, rather than an image depicting the package contents or ingredients, the main product image on a package, is the package, itself. Even stranger, perhaps, is when the picture featured on a package is a different kind of package.

1962SnowBrandPineappleMilkWe’ve mostly seen this type of cross-referential packaging when a product that was traditionally sold in a bottle, comes out with the same beverage, now packaged in a can. (See: Vimto and any number of Coca-Cola bottle-on-can designs.) The idea is to use the familiar package as a product trademark on the new, unfamiliar package.

Other times, the packaging depicted is an earlier, traditional type of packaging, meant to evoke the wholesome purity of simpler times. (See: Mason Jar Stand-Up Pouches and Ersatz Plastic Barrels)

The Japanese beverage packs above, are of the latter type… vintage, Shōwa Modan packaging. Contemporary packages alluding to an earlier type of refillable dairy packaging—milk bottles and yogurt jars, fitted with a paper caps and colored, Cellophane hoods.

The 1962 poster on right (from: shows a woman holding a bottle of pineapple flavored milk in this type of packaging.

(More about each of the 3 cross-referential beverage packs, after the fold…) (more…)

September 16, 2014

Naoto Fukasawa JUICEPEEL Packaging (revisited)


If you’re like me, then you’ve probably already seen these 2004 images of the Naoto Fukasawa JUICEPEEL packaging (above) when they were appearing on various blogs in 2009.

Also known as “Juice Skin,” what I remembered reading about the project at that time, was that the packages were not only colored, but also textured to resemble specific fruits.

That’s true enough, but there’s a bit more to tell, and since we’ve been looking at Tetra Pak juice boxes lately, maybe now’s a good time for a second look.

Soymilk, banana and strawberry “juicepeel” packs from: Nina Pope’s Flickr Photostream

Some of the things that I hadn’t fully understood (or remembered correctly) about this project:

1. The packages were originally created for the Haptic exhibition, a design show sponsored for the 2004 Takeo Paper Show:

Developed for the Haptic exhibition held in Tokyo in 2004, Juice Skin consists of juice boxes that appear to be wrapped in the actual skins of the fruit whose juice they contain. When first seen, the effect of the juice boxes is immediate: audiences quickly comprehend both the contents of the objects as well as the pun Fukasawa is making, since the use of actual fruit skin would be unworkable for this application. Borrowing the precise Japanese craft of simulation developed to make fake plastic food for restaurant displays, Fukasawa creates vividly realistic surfaces that conform to the improbable geometry of disposable beverage container.

Valentina Rognoli, Materials Experience: fundamentals of materials and design

The “improbable geometry” of juice-box shaped fruits is a big part of what makes these packages so intriguing. We’re surprised by “substantially square” products that are not ordinarily rectangular. (e.g.: eggs, cigarettes, toilet paper, etc.)

2. As highlighted above, the fact that these were all simulated plastic “sampuru” was a revelation to me. The same medium is also used to manufacture plastic “play food.”

Fukasawa’s packaging for the Haptic show (photo: from HouShiDai)

3. There were more fruits involved than the frequently photographed, banana juice, strawberry and kiwi fruit juice boxes.  Fukasawa had also created containers for soy milk, green apple and peach juice, as shown on the (apparently rotating) display above.

Another installation of Fukasawa’s “Haptic” juice packaging (photo from lansdscapeiszane)

Photo of Fukasawa’s Pantone-style “JuicePeel” swatches from lansdscapeiszane

4. Fukasawa had also exhibited Pantone-style swatches (above) showing the colors and textures of each of the six proposed “Juicepeel” packaging surfaces.


5. Fukasawa had used a number of different Tetra Pak containers to contain his six proposed flavors, including Tetra Prisma packaging for the banana beverage (shown above), the familiar gable top cartons for peach juice and Tetra Brik juice boxes for the other 4 flavors.

When thinking of objects where there’s a marked contact with paper, what leapt to mind was a paper drink pack. That slight weightiness, the chill and the beads of water on the surface, and the sense of holding a liquid form a set, together with the flavour of the drink. The skin of a fruit is also part of a set, with the juice, the flavour contained within that skin, and the feel of it. I believed that a design that imparted the idea that the taste could be received tactilely would fit in with the exhibition’s theme. Amongst the typical shapes of tetra paks was an octagonal one, and since the configuration of the obtuse faces overlapped with the image of the obtuse surface of a banana, I designed a receptacle for banana-flavoured milk. Things developed from there, and I also designed paks for soymilk, kiwifruit juice, peach juice and strawberry juice. The soymilk pak’s surface was given a texture like that of firm tofu. With the kiwifruit and peach-juice paks, fuzz like that found on the skin of each fruit was applied. The strawberry juice pak had small seeds embedded in its surface. They all turned out rather strange-looking, but a lot of interesting discoveries were made along the way. We understood that the feel of things we touch unconsciously on a daily basis is committed to memory along with that thing’s taste and smell; by awakening in an over-the-top way those senses of which we’re unaware, it was possible to create a mischievous design. With these paks, which are a bit off-putting to look at, if the juice inside tastes good, then they’ll be designs that you won’t be able to forget, that you won’t be able to let go. Looking only at the shape of a fruit, you can’t always say that that fruit looks good. Sometimes it can look off-putting too.

Naoto Fukasawa, Phaidon, 2007

 (One more realization, after the fold…) (more…)

September 11, 2014

Juice Box Flap: 9 blogs reveal hidden handles

Juice Box Flaps as Handles
Ad hoc “wing” handles built-in to Tetra-Brik juice boxes (from: Baby Zone)

As long as we were just talking about how Tetra Brik side flaps are sometimes compared to ears or wings, consider this latent function for Tetra Brik side flaps: hidden handles.

Parents of toddlers have long noted a problem with this type of juice box. In the hands of young children the container is often squeezed too hard and the contents squirt out the straw like a geyser.

One solution that is practically an internet meme, is the idea of using the container’s side flaps as integral handles.

1. As Baby Zone (whose butterfly-wings/juice-box photo is shown above) puts it…

“This popular internet hack stops your kids from squirting juice everywhere by teaching them to lift their juice boxes with the side flaps!”

This same tip has been repeated on many websites, further highlighting both a drawback to the Tetra Brik juice box’s design, and a secret, built-in solution to the problem.

(See 8 more examples, after the fold…) (more…)

September 9, 2014

Tetra Brik Zoomorphic Packaging (bird & bovine)


Zoomorphic packaging: I’ve blogged a lot about anthropomorphic packages, designed to look like people. I figured that there must be a different word for packages designed to resemble animals, but I never got around to looking it up. Until now.

Turns out there are a couple of words that I could have been using to describe an animal-shaped package: “zoomorphic” is one; “theriomorphic” is another.

So today we are featuring 3 zoomorphic Tetra Brik boxes. In each of the animal-shaped packs above, the effect is achieved by unsealing the small triangular flaps of a Tetra Brik package so that they are are no longer in their default “down” position.

In two out of three of examples that we found, these upraised flaps are used to represent “ears” which is interesting since those flaps are actually called “ears” elsewhere…

In the case of Tetra Brik®, the side-seam is also covered with a strip of PE film to prevent the product from contacting the raw edge of the overlapping seam. This style results in ears formed when the horizontal heat seals are made. They are folded flat against the pack and lightly sealed.

Mark J. Kirwan
Handbook of Paper and Paperboard Packaging Technology, 2012

(Details about each of the package designs above, after the fold…) (more…)

September 4, 2014

10 Patented Box Corners

10  Patented Box Corners

corrugated-cornerAlso related to yesterday’s post (about Tom Friedman’s untitled “box corners” sculpture) are the folded cardboard “corner pads” used to protect the corners of boxes or furniture during shipment. (The “corrugated corner pad” on right is from Omnipak’s website)

Above are 10 different patented designs for cardboard corner pads, dating from 1942 to 1994.

Some box corners are tetrahedral, formed by making right-triangular folds. Other box corners are shaped like half of a hollow cube, formed by rectangular right angle folds. (See also: Naef Toys)

There are other patented box corners that are not include here. I thought 10 was just a nice round number for right angle box corners.  (“Top 10 Box Corners”)  But I could just as easily have gone with 9.  (“Nine 90° Box Corners”)

PentagrammicPrismAs long as we’re looking at ten different corner pads, I wondered what kind of box might require all ten. In other words: what polyhedron has 10 right-angle corners?

The one that I came up with, is this pentagrammic prism, based on a star with 90° angle points. Kinda looks like something from Powerpuff Girls, but each of the ten (convex) corners have the same 90° angles as a regular, rectangular box.  We’re not concerned with the concave angles in this thought experiment, because those concave corners are less vulnerable and shouldn’t require protection.

Are there any other 10 corner boxes that would work here? Anyone?

(Die lines diagrams of each of the 10 box corners follow, after the fold…) (more…)

September 3, 2014

Box Corners

"Untitled" 1996 box corners sculpture

TomFriedmanUntitled1996Really like this 1996 untitled “box corners” sculpture by Tom Friedman: “A construction made from the corners of cardboard boxes that contained products the artist used over the course of one year.”

I like the methodical accumulation of packaging, reassembled into an artwork.  See also: One Year (in the life of George Maciunas) and, for that matter, my own Songs about Packaging CD artwork.

And I like the amorphous, concave polyhedron of brand packaging.

Its structure is related to crystal twinning and compounds of cubes. Each tetrahedral “corner” of the sculpture is a recognizable fragment of a rectangular box. While the cut-out cardboard box corners are not as symmetrically arranged as in the compound polyhedrons and the twin crystal shown below, an intersection of boxes is implied, none-the-less.

left: pyrite twin (triplet) crystal; right: Intersection of Two Cubes

Compound polyhedrons with 2, 3, 4 and 5 cubes

Compound polyhedrons with 6, 7 and 10 cubes (from: Wolfram Mathworld)

See also: George Hart’s website

(2 more ways of reusing cut off box corners, after the fold…) (more…)

August 31, 2014

Packaging and Pop Art Buggies

One of the Pop Art Buggies series: “Tony the Tiger” (sold on eBay for $5.99)


PopArtBuggies-1stPhotoIt was the little picture on the right that first drew my attention to what I eventually learned were called “Pop Art Buggies.” A series of toy cars, launched by Buddy L in 1971, that were designed to resemble product packaging.

For kids, seeing familiar food packages transformed into dune-buggy/go-cart toy cars probably made perfect sense, coming, as it did, a few years after the launch of Topp’s wildly popular “Wacky Packages” stickers.

Pop Art Buggies follow a similar cultural logic, although, here, there’s no product satire. More like: licensed product placement, revealing a previously hidden potential for fun. New ways of playing with your food (packaging.)

Probably the first time that the trademark name of a $1 kids toy car was ever based on a contemporary art movement. (Barring any “Op Art” brand of toy cars that I’ve yet to discover.)


Three of the Pop-Art Buggies series (for sale on eBay for $65)

Pop Art Buggy, “Soda Pop Stop” (sold on eBay for $14.99)

How many different models of “Pop Art Buggies” were made? Well I don’t have any Buddy L product catalogs to refer to, but my research on eBay and in old newspapers seems to show that there were only six models ever made.

“Wild, whacky and positively irresistible! Tony the Tiger, Soda Pop Stop, Heinz Ketchup, Bazooka Gum, Skippy Peanut Butter and Lightn’n Bug. Six kooky carts with rugged steel bodies. “Non-Mar” oversize racing slicks. Brite plate chrome and wheel discs.”

The full set of Pop Art Buggies (via: Worthpoint)

The GE light-bulb shaped “Lightn’n Bug” is the outlier of the group—a product, not a package.

While the “real” products here are the toy cars, the real question is: how were these package-shaped toy cars packaged?

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

August 19, 2014

3 Patented Multi-Packs with Trapezoidal Portions


Following the thread (or the chain of polyhedrons) of our last post, today we have patents for three, very similar, multiple packages or multi-packs with trapezoidal portions.

Their structural similarity, however, goes beyond the separable trapezoidal containers. Each is also designed to be rolled up into a polyhedral prism.

While these designs make ingenious use of space by “close-packing” their individual compartments, they also turn the backing(s) into an exterior package, which has the effect of concealing the product.

I wonder: is this concealment a feature or an unintended consequence?

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

August 15, 2014

2 More Chained Polyhedral Portion Packs

Chained Polyhedral Portion Packs

Another pair of chained polyhedral portion packs of the sort we’ve been obsessed with for a while. Each was nominated in the Packaging Impact Design Awards for different years.


1. Hanna Jansson’s Estivale Champagne packaging was among this year’s PIDA’s nominees from Sweden. Her carton, containing four Champagne bottles, starts our as a rectangular box, with four “hingedly connected” right triangle prism shaped compartments. Besides affording more space for product information when displayed as an unfolded chain of packages, her design is also reversible, with a dual arrangement, in which the bottles are visible, rather than hidden.

“Once opened it’s going to turn inside out and can then be placed directly on the dinner table. The inside is decorated with recipes that contains champagne to eat on a summer day.”

from Hanna Jansson’s Behance site

(See also: Jessica Comin’s “laranja mecánica”)


2. Choc’n’Diz was a collaborative project by Cloé Tizot, Julien Gorgery and Julie Znamiec. Among the 2011 PIDA nominees from France, their “string of individually packed chocolates” won the Best Level of Innovation Award.

“It is designed with removable single portions which gives it flexibility and defining it as a nomadic pack…”

Each portion is a separate tetrahedron, but these tetrahedrons are arranged differently from the classic “TetraPak sausage” arrangement.

See also: The Haberdasher’s PackageChained Polyhedral (Seafood Pastry) Packs  and  3 More Chained Polyhedral Packs