Box Vox

packaging as content

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

August 13, 2014

3 Substantially Square Toilet Paper Rolls

Square Toilet Paper

Square toilet paper: another simple, but somehow radical product transformation, similar to the idea of “square cigarettes.” (See: New Idea No.19: substantially square cigarettes)

What are the benefits of a square (or substantially square) roll of toilet paper?

redesigned toilet paper by Shigeru Ban

1. For Shigeru Ban, (an architect known for his innovative use of spiral wound paper tubes as a building material), the square core tube was proposed as a bathroom conservation strategy. Like toilet tanks that consume less water per flush, his 2000 “Toilet Paper” is engineered to constrain consumption of paper…

Architect Ban is known around the world for designing buildings using paper tubes. He has a genuine reason for this approach. Paper tubes can be produced at a low cost and can be recycled when they are no longer needed. Toilet paper attracted his interest. Ban’s re-designed toilet paper has a square tube. The conventional round roll smoothly supplies more paper, “swoosh, swoosh”. The square roll resists, functioning to reduce resource consumption. What’s more, when packaged, the square rolls fit together nicely, saving space in transportation and storage.

Kenya Hara, from the 2000 “RE DESIGN” exhibition

With square cigarettes, there was one patent which used the phase “substantially square.” In this case, what’s striking is not so much that the roll thas been made square, but that the roll has square paper tube core. (Reminds me of those ancient Chinese coins with the square holes.)

The “re-designed” toilet paper, however, isn’t even “substantially” square. More like: somewhat square. It’s this 2nd reason, (highlighted in yellow above) —that square rolls of toilet paper fit together “nicely”— that figures into our next example.

Square Roll Toilet Paper Patent

2. The primary benefit cited by by Fernfors Ingemar and Schinkoreit Wolfram in their 2005 “Core-wound paper product and method of making it” patent is close packing.

Rather than preventing excess paper from being dispensed, the idea here is for the manufacturer to save money on packaging and shipping, by compressing the product to take up less space.  (Again, the product is described as “substantially” square.)

“The invention relates to a method of packaging a paper product comprising at least one compression loaded, core-wound roll of paper and a compression constraining means for constraining such roll, said compressive loading being applied to said roll to effect a deformation of said core of each roll into a substantially square cross-section, and said constraining means comprises means for constraining each such deformed core and wound paper roll. The invention further relates to a method of packaging an array of such rolls, as well as an article packaged in accordance with the invention.”

This patent was assigned to Swedish consumer goods company, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA). Did they ever manufacture such a product?  I don’t know.  Do you?

(Meanwhile: we have one more square roll of toilet paper, after the fold…) (more…)

August 6, 2014

Oily Bird: clever packaging, “fanciful” design, 29¢

Oily Bird Houshold Lubricant  Package Design
Left: from 1964 issue of Broadcast Magazine; right: Oily Bird packaging via: Ryan Feerer

Oily 1964MilwaukeeSentinelCleverPackagingBird: A Brooklynese play on words (i.e.: “early bird”) and an early 1960s “household lubricant” brand launched in 1963 by the Ronson Consumer Products Corporation.

Their packaging combined illustration with a stock oil can container to create a remarkably seamless simulated bird.

Not certain whose idea this was or who created the original trademarked bird illustration, but the news squib (on the top left) from a 1964 issue of Broadcast Magazine mentions “The Zlowe Company” in connection with a television campaign for the product.

Further research reveals that an animated television commercial for “Ronson Oily Bird” (Made by Stars and Stripes Forever Productions and entitled Squeak) won “Best Animation Design” in the 1965 “American TV Commercials Festival.”

Once I’d learned of its existence, I really wanted to find this commercial and include it here.

You might think you can find anything online, but some things are so obscure —(discontinued products, for instance)— that no one has felt the need to make it available.

No one had ever bothered to put up a streaming video of the animated “Oily Bird” commercial. (Until now.) The chances are good, I think, that the commercial below is the award winning “Squeak.”  Judging by the style of the characters, the animator must certainly have been Stars and Stripes founder, Leonard Glasser. If so, I’m guessing that this is the first time it’s ever been posted online. (You’re welcome!)

(But wait! There’s more, after the fold…) (more…)

August 5, 2014

More Deformable Triangular Tessellations


Related to the tessellated surfaces of yesterday faceted flexible packaging: the ambitious “deformable” magazine cover by PaperLux done for the German design magazine, Novum in 2011.

“For the cover of the November issue we and our cooperation partners have pulled out all the stops to produce something very special. In 48,000 passes and with 140 extremely detailed die cuts per magazine, we created six differently coloured versions of the cover, without exposing the plates again each time. The result is a metamorphosis of paper, inspired by the one and only Richard Buckminster Fuller.”

See also: Pseudo-Cylindrical Concave Polyhedral Packaging

August 4, 2014

4 Faceted Folding Packets


Four flexible packages, are each designed with triangular folds, giving them a certain geometric logic when flexed.

Similar to the pseudo-cylindrical concave polyhedral cans we were looking at recently, only here the objective is to facilitate buckling in an orderly “Yoshimura pattern.”

(More about all four of these package design projects, after the fold…) (more…)

July 29, 2014

Apropos: Propo Packaging 2




Returning to some of the “propo” props that artist, Paul McCarthy has used in performances — namely, the props which are also consumer packaged goods.  (See: Propo Packaging: Besmirched and Befould)

Hard to imagine a product use, more at odds with a food manufacturer’s intended brand image…

Ketchup has been a pivotal motif through all of McCarthy’s work. He has frequently used ketchup in his performances and installations,  along with other kitchen table foodstuffs such as mayonnaise and chocolate,  as stand-ins for bodily fluids and excretions. These grocery staples of domestic family life are transformed in McCarthy’s work into representations of violence, sex and defecation.

Tate Modern

 (See also: Packaging & Moral Turpitude)

July 26, 2014

Androgyny & Bow-Tie Shaped Fragrance Bottles


Are “bow tie” shaped perfume bottles sexually ambiguous? This idea has been asserted about each of the bottles shown above.

1. Guerlain’s bow tie shaped bottle (made by Baccarat) for the perfume known as “Coque d’Or” was first introduced in 1937…

mdietrich_tieThe public’s thirst for luxury, novelty, and modernity was relentless and was captured perfectly in one of the most decadent bottles ever made — Guerlain’s iconic Papillon bottle for Coque d’Or (shell of gold). This bottle, inspired by the androgyny of the likes of Marlene Dietrich, comprised a bow tie made from cobalt crystal totally covered in a fine shell of pure gold leaving just the shoulders exposed to reveal the luxurious crystal within; the whole encased in a silk lined box created by Jean-Michel Frank.

Nathalie Grainger, Quintessentially Perfume


2. Viktor & Rolf’s more recent bow tie shaped bottle (made by Pochet du Courval) for V&R’s “Bonbon” perfume…

“It is is housed within a sheer pink and purple glass bottle in the shape of a bow tie, reflecting the androgynous design aesthetic of the famous brand.”

Viktor & Rolf introduces the Bonbon fragrance, April 2014

Some manufacturers will use the term “androgynous” to mean the same thing as “unisex.” Used this way, “androgynous bottles” are simply bottles that are equally suitable for a man’s or a woman’s product. That’s not what they’re saying about these two bottles. They’re saying they can’t tell for certain what gender these bottle are!

To the extent that we anthropomorphize objects (and packaging, in particular), it’s no surprise, perhaps, that bottles may be thought of as also possessing gender. The French give their objects male & female pronouns, after all.

I would argue, however, that the meaning of the “bow tie” shape (and whether it’s even interpreted as a bow tie) depends very much on context.  Take it out of its familiar (male) context (the collar of a man-tailored shirt) and a bow tie ain’t necessarily a bow tie anymore. It might be some other type kind of bow. Perhaps the real ambiguity here is that you can’t say for certain whether these bottle are bow ties or hair bows.

One thing that seems to make the “Bonbon” bottle skew in a non-masculine direction, is the bright pink color, of course. (This color choice is also a significant feature of our third “bonus” example of a bow-tie shaped perfume bottle.)

(More photos of each, and a 3rd, not-so-androgynous bow-tie shaped perfume bottle, after the fold…) (more…)

July 24, 2014

Anya Hindmarch’s Cereal Box Clutches


Among the Pop-Art-influenced leather handbags included in Anya Hindmarch’s Fall 2014 collection were these 3 snakeskin “clutch bags.”


A licensee for Kellogg’s branded “luxury goods,” Hindmarch used printed snakeskin to simulate 3 vintage Kellogg’s cereal boxes.

No coincidence, perhaps, that all 3 of Anya Hindmarch’s Cereal Box designs were basically the same versions as those included in Kellogg’s 2012 limited edition UK “Diamond Jubilee” packs.


(Another photo of the Hindmarch “Coco Pops” clutch, after the fold…) (more…)