Black Boxes

All4extinct_2I like the use of die-cut box shapes as a design element in these four celestial extinction prints by Sub-Studio. (Yours for $25 each)

“99% of all species that ever existed on the Earth
are now extinct. We imagine that their spirits migrate to the skies as
they pass on. The Celestial Extinction series of prints charts each
species’ constellation in the ether of the night sky.”

I like how they’ve turned functional shapes (not originally intended to be viewed as a flat unfolded shapes) into a random (but somber) design elements. I do sense that the choice of each die-cut shape may have been guided somewhat by the shape of each extinct species—(dodo, bird, mouse & fish)—so maybe the die-cut design element is not so random after all. The unfolded box shapes look black here, but they are actually printed with a dark navy ink to represent the night sky. The online product description suggests that: “If desired, you can cut out and fold the print to create a container,” but I have to say, you’d be an idiot to do that. You’d lose the cool background color!

Chicken Stock Illustration


I got this Maggi Bouillon a while ago because I liked the chicken illustration. I like the simple geometry of its open beak, its red comb & wattles. There’s another version of this illustration where the feather shapes are black, but I like this version where the feathers are cyan much better. To me they double as water droplets and seem to be a good signifier for the idea that this is a product that you rehydrate by adding water. I also like the red “speech balloon” shape of the Maggi logo, which on this package, kind of relates back to the chicken and its wattles.

Then a couple of days ago I was looking at illustrations on J.D. King’s illustration blog and I happened upon this adorable chick (below). Funny how the speech balloon with the heart is positioned similarly to the Maggi logo. King’s illustration has that guileless, 1950’s product mascot thing, but with a more modern, reductivist edge. Then there’s the orange background… (I expect I will be writing more about the importance of the color “orange” in future blogs.) Meanwhile, check out J.D. King’s work on his web site and elsewhere.



BoxVox: the musical instrument

VoxboxcubeHere is a pitfall of branding with a self-rhyming name. I thought “box vox” was a logical and suitable name for this blog in which I would hold forth on the subject of packaging (BoxVox as in “voice of the package”). Trouble is, if you find two words that rhyme, then someone else has also noticed this.
Jon Kanon was someone who noticed and thought it a logical and suitable name for his experimental musical instrument (BoxVox as in “box-shaped musical instrument with its own singing voice”). A beautiful black lacquered object that, like a theremin, seems to be played by proximity of hands, but without actually touching it. (Video of Kanon’s BoxVox instrument in use) Using light as it does, it almost reminds me of some 18th Century “color organ” although with the BoxVox the use of light appears to be a functional means of control rather than music/color synesthesia.


The Alpaca Mouse

AlpacamouseLast month, Debby and I discovered a small, mom and pop alpaca farm on Route 47 (south NJ) right next door to a produce stand that we often go to. Tish Carpinelli let us feed her animals out back and, since it was Debby’s birthday, she picked herself out a sweater from the little store, Absolutely Alpaca,  in back of their house. I had to have this handmade, catnip mouse, ostensibly for the cats at home, but really because I just like it. It’s made of a very dense “felt” that Tish somehow fashions from the fleece. I like how it’s so minimal (like a Joseph Beuys cat toy!) and at the same time kind of darkly reminiscent of an owl pellet, as if it might contain an actual mouse (or the remains, thereof). It also kind of calls to mind a “hair ball” which also seems very appropriate for cat toy. Now that I’ve photographed it, I may let one of those stupid cats play with it. Eventually. Possibly by Christmas time…

Packaging Junk

I cannot find the etymological origins of its first usage, but at some point in time, the word “package” acquired a new racy meaning:

“Package: Male genitalia (penis and scrotum together), often associated with large size.”
–Urban Dictionary

(Note: slang term “junk” shares a similar slang definition.)

Maybe this all started in the early 1980s when Bruce Weber’s photos of athletes in Calvin Klein brand jockey briefs, forever changed the way men’s underwear was marketed. Like the deceptive photos on cereal boxes (enlarged to show texture), male “packaging” was suddenly everywhere and in your face. Supposedly, it’s a common photo stylist’s trick to have the model wear two pairs of briefs with a slice of Wonderbread in between to smooth out the area to an acceptably non-specific bulge. The boundaries of what was acceptable were clearly in flux, however.


(more to read after the jump)

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Fluff Does Line Extension

FluffThis may not be late-breaking news. For all I know, there may have been Strawberry Marshmallow Fluff sitting along side of regular Fluff for several decades now. It is news to me, however: original Fluff, Strawberry Fluff and [I understand there is also] Raspberry Fluff.

I like the logical, workman-like way that this line extension was done—a change of color here and there, strawberries (rather than a spoonful of Fluff) as the illustration tucked into the overhead compartment of the “u”—the single letter in “fluff” without an ascender. I like the nostalgic vibe of the two typefaces that “marshmallow” and “fluff” are set in. Before you know it, you’ve got the Fluffernutter theme song jingle running through your head.