Summer Soles

Fragrantfootings1_2 We recently designed some packaging for Summer Soles, (a Texas-based manufacturer of shoe insoles) that gave us an opportunity to use a favorite printing trick on these die-cut pillow packs: getting a “full color” photo effect from black + two Pantone colors.  Besides the economy of using fewer ink colors, the Pantone “spot” colors can be so much brighter than CMYK alone would have been. Of course, this trick is only applicable if the photo is predominately just one or two colors—(yellow in the flower and the lemon, for example)—and judicious color choices are key.


Randy Ludacer

Human Packaging

Chicken_4Here’s what it inevitably leads to—all that talk of personal branding and how to best “package” oneself for the job market.

These images are from us, a London-based design studio. (“us” as in the pronoun—not US as in United States.) There are also close-ups of the labels on their web site.

Sort of reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode in which some aliens are in possession of a book with a benevolent sounding title: To Serve Man.

Randy Ludacer


Hate Group Branding

HatesignsWestboro Baptist Church has an unholy affection for the font: ITC Kabel.   

I recently saw the disturbing documentary, “Fall from Grace” by filmmaker K. Ryan Jones. The film follows the activities of a fundamentalist “group” from Topeka,  Kansas—(pretty much just one family)—who have managed to alienate everyone (left, right and in between) with their peculiar fusion of gay-bashing and anti-americanism.

Westboro Baptist Church is led by Pastor Fred Phelps, a lawyer who was disbarred in the mid-90s for witness intimidation, who started the church fifty years ago. It is a small group, comprised mostly of members of the Phelps family, but their hatred is prolific. They demonstrate anywhere they feel that their message is applicable, like the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming student who was killed for being gay and most recently, at the funerals of military servicemen and women killed in Iraq.

—from the film’s online synopsis

(a photo of the filmmaker and more to read after the jump)

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Sferra 1891


Admirable packaging for Sferra’s recently debuted 1891
line. Linens packaging, (I think) is a generally overlooked area of
package design. Perhaps it’s because one is forced to be so restrained,
that the best packaging is in this category is invariably self-effacing
and seldom garners much attention. Since the packaging must work with
any number of unforeseen patterns and colors that are in the products,
one cannot resort to the usual attention-getting tactics.

According to Aaron Stewart, Sferra’s Creative Director,

This was a brand extension to our Sferra fine linens
brand of Italian made product … So we wanted a logo that bridges the
two brands together.

(a close-up photo and quote from the designer follow after the jump)

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La Compagnie de Provence

I cannot speak or read French. It may be that La Compagnie de Provence’s typo-centric packaging had an even stronger impact on me for that reason. (Undistracted by the meaning of the words, I’m left just to ponder the way it looks: typography as pattern and color.) Another example of the sort of “typographic packaging” —(similar to the Waitrose Cook
packaging shown on the dieline last week)— that uses verbiage as its
main graphic feature. Seen all together, as they were at Gift Fair,
these products make quite an impression.


The first product packaging for La Compagnie de Provence (founded in
1990 by French fashion designers, Philippe Boigeol and Pascal Bourelly)
was traditional "Marseille soap" packaged in wrapping paper, tied with
hemp rope and with a small wax seal.
(more photos and more to read after the jump…)

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Sorapot’s Corrugated Cardboard Box

JoeyrothteapotWe got to meet designer, Joey Roth, whose "Sorapot"—(a complete re-think of what a traditional teapot can be)—has been popping up in a number of blogs. We got a sneak peak at his new packaging. The first thing that struck me about it was the coarse, exposed corrugated cardboard. I’d never seen such audaciously rough-hewn cardboard packaging… more like a Robert Rauschenberg cardboard sculpture than commercial product packaging.

Quite the contrast with the gleaming chrome and glass product (seen here nesting in a molded pulp tray).

A check of his web site, however, revealed that this was not his first design for the package, but the culmination of a number of explorations. He had worked out an elaborate structural plan for making the entire box (top, bottom and inner support structure) from a single sheet of die-cut cardboard.


As Joey explained in an email:

The folded corrugated box was the original plan for Sorapot’s packaging, but after some analysis I realized that it would actually use more material than the current molded pulp box and offer less protection during shipping. Still, I like to show people the flat pattern next to the folded-up box.

My approach with the actual packaging was to articulate the beauty of cardboard. I wanted to use the honeycomb corrugation as a design accent, and show the cardboard’s actual color. The factory thought I was a bit crazy when I told them not to cover the structural cardboard with bright white or glossy black paper, but the design has received a great response.

Below are some more photos of the actual packaging.


Randy Ludacer

Boss Lady


I embarrassed myself at the Gift Fair booth of Blue Q, the Massachusetts-based company, founded in 1988 by brothers, Seth and Mitch Nash. The dieline has already featured at least four different product lines from this company: Miso Pretty, Total Bitch, Wash Away Your Sins, and Mental Case.
I, however, totally blanked out on the fact that each of these very
different-looking products are from the same company. Mitch patiently
explained to me how their company uses different designers (in-house
and otherwise) for different projects.  A little research turned up a
2005 interview of Mitch by Steven Heller about Blue Q’s working relationships with various designers (and other topics).

Haley Johnson is the designer,
illustrator and copywriter who is behind Blue Q’s “Boss Lady” brand.
Boss Lady has a hilarious, western dominatrix thing going on—(reminds
me a little of Barbara Stanwyck in The Big Valley)—and
really illustrates the importance of strong copy writing. In addition
to the illustration and graphic design, Haley wrote all the tough-gal, romance copy including such nuggets as “Send
Dry Lips Packing,” “Dig in you heels,” "crack the whip” and
“Drive a hard bargain”. Read what she has to say about the project after the jump…

(more to read a lots more pictures of Boss Lady packaging)

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Vote Soap Box

VotesoapOwner, Kate Smith designs her own packaging for the Rhode Island-based Kala. She let us take a picture of her “Vote Soap” display at Gift Fair.

Interesting correlation made here between cleanliness and voting. Voting as metaphor for washing. Similar to the soap, the soap box here provides a two part message front and back. Vote (wash) and Feel Good (and feel clean).

A “feel good” voter-registration drive in a red, black & white box? Consumer product as “change agent” trying to transform the body politic from dirty to clean?  (…with an “olive branch fragrance”)

An anti-incumbent product, to be sure, but a more subtly, anti-incumbent product as compared to, say, Blue Q’s “George Bush’s Dumbass Head On A String Car Air Freshener.” But perhaps that subtly is what makes it all the more subversive. This soap is no joke.

Randy Ludacer



New sustainable package from Paddywax, a Georgia-based candle-making company founded by Gretchen Hollingsworth and husband, David Duncan. 

I’m seeing more and more of the classic egg-carton, molded pulp packaging around recently. I like it. I also like the twine and the striped hang-tag.

Paddywax’s packaging is designed by Principle
with offices in Houston, Texas and Quebec City. According to Pamela
Zuccker, a partner at the firm, their successful re-branding of
Paddywax began in 2004. Her email also included some information
confirming the new product packaging’s eco-credentials:

soy-based inks, to hemp twine, to recycled paper, this eco-sensitive
collection is committed to conserving our planets resources. The
chlorine free paper pulp box is manufactured in an ISO 14001 standard
facility with 100% post-industrial recycled paper. The packaging label
is FSC-certified.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Propylene Rice Bag Packaging Reincarnated as Product

1st3bagsIn the “Handmade” section of Gift Fair we noticed another example of a product made from used packaging. Gecko Trading re-purposes woven propylene rice bags to make its line of Eco-Weekender bags and accessories.

A similar recycled, pop fashion to the bags made from candy wrappers that were so popular a couple of years ago, but these bags are presumably less labor-intensive to make.

(more photos after the jump)

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Dana Wyse’s thought-provoking header cards


I have a soft spot for modest, dime-store header card packaging. (see my post about that topic on the dieline). This, however is something else, altogether. Dana Wyse, a Canadian artist, now living in Paris, makes powerfully ironic statements in her series of imaginary products. Packaged like inexpensive novelty items, these imaginary products promise to fulfill a wide range of human needs and desires—some of them not-so-nice.

(more photos and much more to read after the jump)

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Lenticular Packaging

Couple of weeks ago, at Home Depot, a plastic header card for a
paint roller extension pole caught my eye. The package had a moving
image on it. Closer inspection revealed it to be “lenticular
printing—(an animated printing technique developed in the 1940’s)—the
same process that put those "winking eye" novelty prizes into boxes of
Cracker Jacks.

At Gift Fair, I was surprised to find more
packaging that featured this early, special effects printing process at
the booth of the Danish design company, EGO open-minded individuals.

I had seen some of their products online, but I had never seen their
packaging before. Minimal white boxes with a black plaid pattern
(incorporating their logo) and every package in their product line
features an animated lenticular product image!

(a detail-photo and more to read after the jump)

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