Typecube™ — 3 more types


I’m done with the Rubik’s Cube thread for now. Honest. The thing is, it led me to some related loose ends—loose ends that I now feel compelled to tie up…

ScottTypeCube One of last week’s typographically-hacked Rubik’s cubes was Scott Kellum’s “TypeCube”—(inset, on right). Search online for that brand name, however, and you will find at least three other “Typecubes.” Not a huge trademark infringement case, since these are small DIY graphic-designer projects. Still—all but one of the designers has seriously considered selling their Typecubes and, for potential products, there may be some confusing similarity.

1. At top is Manuel Kiem’s 2007 Typecube. Not a Rubik’s cube exactly, but a twistable, modular font-stamping device, similar to Jas Bhachu’s more recent “Font Generator” which we also featured last week. Kiem offers a free font based on his Typecube device. (Scott Kellum also offers a free font based on his Typecube device.)

2. Center photo shows Regina Rebele’s 2008 Type-Cube. Her project is made of paper and is definitely not a Rubik’s Cube. (Although it does appear to be a “Magic Folding Cube”) Also: even though her Type-Cube is nicely packaged, hers is the one that does not seem to be for sale as a product.

3. Lower photo shows Chris Clarke’s 2008 Typecube. Her project consists of a cube-shaped box containing 64 small wooden blocks, which can be used to form modular letters or patterns. A more recent version of this idea may be seen on another graphic designer’s web site: jori-design’s “One Hundred Cubes One Alphabet” — modular typography via small, cube-shaped blocks.

I am not trying to cause any trouble or stir up litigation here. I’m just saying… if a typographically-inclined loved-one wants a “TypeCube” next Christmas—you just need to be sure you know: “which type?”

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Predis™ Anthro-Pack

From Sidel/Predis: an anthropomorphic bottle promotion. We’ve featured a lot of anthro-packs, animated and otherwise. Usually they are targeted to consumers in an effort, I suppose, to “humanize” a product—but here, we have a B2B example of the genre.

Written by Bill Fahber for the French agency, Sidièse. Animation by London-based I Can Fly™ Group and the French agency, Design 2HS.

(See what these anthropomorphic bottles are selling, after the fold…)

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Tiger & Frog Cartons

Earlier this month we looked at food packages that featured depictions of open mouths—usually animals. (See: Looking Into the Mouth of Food Packaging)

Yesterday, in an email from Conroy Barron Public Relations on behalf of Boulder-based TDA Advertising, I received another fine example of this idea.

Coromega Kid’s Fish Oil Supplements come in a carton, which(if opened properly)—forms a jaw-like hinged-lid pack. Following the fanciful logic of animal mascots, the animals representing the two flavors of the product (orange and lemon-lime) are a tiger and a frog. (Not a fish.) Credited for creative direction: Thomas Dooley and Jonathan Schoenberg. Designed and illustrated by Sylvia Suh.

Coincidentally there was a column in the science section of today’s NY Times on the possible health benefits of fish oil with omega-3 fatty acids. (see: Fish Versus Flax)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

7 Rubik’s Cube Fonts


Last Friday, we featured a number of typographically-hacked Rubik’s Cubes. Today we have seven novelty fonts designed to look like Rubik’s cubes. As such, they also speak to issues of screen resolution and the recent history of computer font design. (See Emigre’s “Empire” etc.)

The classic, 3×3 screen size make for a very low-res font indeed if 9 pixels is all one has to work with. Most of these fonts cleverly get around that by using a 3D view so that each letter-form wraps around more than one side of the cube, thereby doubling or tripling their effective resolution.

The two photo-fonts included (#5 and #7) get around the resolution limitation in other ways. One simply used groups of four 3×3 cubes for each letter. The other just opted for the higher-resolution 5×5 cube. (Just as as screen resolutions have increased—so, too, have the resolutions of Rubik’s Cubes increased: from 3 to 4 to 5, etc.)

1. Kubics Rube (difficult to date, since the designer is anonymous or unknown, but judging by an accompanying text file, this font dates back at least to 2003—maybe earlier)—[an update: digging further, I learn that Kubrics Rube should be credited to the “Font Nook”—the name of an apparently defunct GeoCities site, belonging to one “weakestlink101.”]

“Patterned after the popular cubic shaped puzzle.”

2. Rubix by Carlos Vigil (2008)

“This 3-D modular font was inspired by the classic Rubik’s cube. In designing the type I wanted the letters not only to reflect the form of the toy, but to also extend beyond the puzzle to capture the aesthetic of 1980’s pop-culture.”


(5 more Rubik’s Cube fonts, after the twist…)

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5 Typographic Rubik’s Cubes


Five different modular-typography-machines based on Rubik’s Cube—at least three of which include packaging. 

1. Jas Bhachu’s “Font Generator”

“Using a Rubik’s cube I designed a set of stamps to be placed on four of
the sides of the cube so users are able to create their own font.”


2. Scott Kellum’s “TypeCube”

“The TypeCube was created after looking at modular typefaces and
combining those elements into a puzzle. The Rubik’s cube ended up being
the perfect base for such a puzzle so it was a matter of solving what
shapes were best suited to create every letter of the alphabet from
just six different patterns. The end result is the TypeCube.”


3. Tom Jensen’s Daftpunk Rubix Cube Font

“The aim of this project is to typographically express lyrics from … Daft Punk—‘Technologic’ … through fracturing type with a modular bespoke typeface and interactive type cubes”


(2 more Rubik’s typo-mechanisms, after the fold…)

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In Six Moves


Another Rubik’s Cube related package1. On Tuesday we featured Invader’s “Rubikcubist” recreations of famous album covers. Yesterday we looked at the original Hungarian package for Rubik’s Cube. Today we’re looking at a more recent vinyl record release, “In Six Moves” by the Almería-based band, Moon Unit. (No relation to Frank Zappa’a daughter, I don’t think—and not to be confused with the Gasgow-based, Moon Unit.2) The cover with Rubik’s Cube graphics is by Almería-based design studio, Globulart Diseño:

The title of the LP came during a conversation with David Bailey, singer and lead guitar of the band; the idea was to use the famous Rubik’s Cube to take advantage of some coincidences:

The LP contains six songs / the cube has 6 sides.
The world record in solving the Rubik’s Cube is six moves / again, the concept of the six songs.

Except for the CMYK color palette, the cover illustration is remarkably similar to the illustration featured on the original Politechnika Rubik’s Cube packaging which is maybe appropriate considering both products were manufactured and packaged in Eastern Bloc countries. (“In Six Moves” was pressed and printed at a factory in the Czech Republic.)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

(Four footnoted digressions, after the fold…)

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Politechnika Packaging

PolitoysPackPhoto of the original “Büvös Kocka” packaging via: Baxterweb Puzzle Auctions 

When Erno Rubick’s famous puzzle first came out in 1977—before Ideal Toy Corporation got involved—it was called “Büvös Kocka” (Magic Cube) and was manufactured only in Communist-Bloc Hungary by Politechnika Ipari Szövetkezet. (aka: Politoys)

The puzzle was first packaged in this interesting folding carton—(with integral hang hole flap).

(More folding cartons, after the fold)

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Packaging via: Rubikcubism


 Some package-related artworks by Invader—the French “street artist” best known for installing unauthorized tile mosaics of 8-bit1 video game graphics in public places.

RubiksoupThe album cover mosaics, above, and Campbell’s Soup can2, on right, are actually assemblages of Rubik’s cubes. (See: Rubikcubism)

Like Space Invaders, the Rubik’s Cube is an 80s game made from colored squares.  It’s a fascinating object, as it’s both extremely simple and extremely complex. Did you know there are over 43 billion possible permutations for a Rubik’s Cube? I use the Rubik's Cube like an artist uses paint. I like the idea that it wasn’t intended to be used this way, and that ultimately it works really well.


For me, the bitmapped album covers, easiest to decipher, are those that I’m familiar with—that I actually owned and listened to. (Above: Abbey Road, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Country Life, and Nevermind) They simultaneously hark back to the obsolete, orphaned medium of vinyl records, while more closely resembling a low-res iTunes thumbnail.

But it’s not all conceptual post-digital pointillism. This work also flaunts an impressive mastery of Rubik’s cube moves as shown in the video below. (Please note: the opening shot…)

(Another photo & footnoted digressions, after the fold….)

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Campbell’s Spray Paint Cans


On left: “Campbell’s Graffiti Soup” by Rene Gagnon; on right: Mr. Brainwash’s “Tomato Spray.” Two different artists with a financial stake in the same concept. Both silkscreen prints. Both sold-out editions of 100.

To the extent that graffiti (and art, in general) has certain competitive goals in common with product branding—(getting the name out there, claiming territory, defending reputation)—it should come as no big surprise that graffiti artists would think of referencing consumer packaged goods.

While it’s nice to think that parallel ideas might signify some broader cultural shift, in situations where there is a potential for "consumer confusion"—as with consumer brands—this can be considered trademark infringement

Massachusetts-based Rene Gagnon and Los-Angeles-based Frenchman, Thierry Guetta (aka "Mr. Brainwash") are both graffiti-style artists, whose works have frequently alluded to Andy Warhol’s work. Among their many Warhol-based concepts, they each have done many, many artworks using this Campbells-Soup/Spray-Paint-Can idea. Naturally there has been controversy about who’s ripping off whom. (See: Bansky Forum) For the record, it appears that Rene Gagnon got there first in 2006.

Sure, “great minds think alike” and maybe the controversy has helped both artists garner more attention —(and therefore sell more art). But confusing, it certainly is.

Picture+1 “Multiplied Tomato Spray” by Mr. Brainwash (via: Dregs)


Rene Gagnon’s poster, above, confronts his competitor directly by ironically claiming “The Original” as his product benefit. (Layout is based on the same Campbell’s Soup “Can Bag” promotion that we featured: here

(More, after the fold…)

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Parsing Drips & Droplets


Top row, left: David Fung’s milk carton concept—the length of drip corresponds to fat content (via); on right: David Drummond’s design for olive oil packaging; 2nd row left: graphic design for Mew “cereal milk” by Thailand-based Subconscious (via); at center and on right: Casa Loreto olive oil by London-based The Partners (via: bad banana blog); 3rd row, left: another olive oil bottle with a large 3D droplet—Dom Diogo, designed by Base and Michael Young (via); on right: Nature’s Agave “agave nectar” bottles by San Francisco-based studio,  The Engine Room; 4th row, left: Turner Duckworth’s design for Bliss Vital Oils (via); on right: Shefa Young Wine label (with diecut drip-shaped windows) by Israel-based Nine99Design (via); bottom left: Method’s teardrop-shaped hand-wash bottles

Is it my imagination or has there lately been a deluge of graphic drips and droplets on packaging? The teardrop-shaped droplet has long served as a graphic shorthand for liquids. A good way way to quickly communicate liquid or viscous contents, but some of these drips —particularly the long extended drips— would seem to run contrary to the ideal objectives of a container. The prospect of a food or a beverage oozing down the sides of a package is not generally seen as a plus from the consumer point of view. (Why else do we have those “no-drip” caps on bottles of ketchup and chocolate syrup?) So what, then, is behind this mini-trend?

Can this be packaging’s muted and minimalist response to expressionist graffiti? The examples above are not very expressionistic and even with graffiti, drips were not always desirable.

Drips are generally a kind of incontinence, a mark of control betrayed by the treacheries of fluid, whether allowed to happen by house painters or by artists. The masters of subway graffiti recruited apprentices to wipe away the drips, regarded by them as inconsistent with their claim to mastery. Abstract Expressionism made wiping drips away obsolete.

Arthur C. Danto, Pollock and the Drip
The Nation, January 25, 1999

If Abstract Expressionism has taught graffiti artists not to bother wiping away the drips, the graffiti artist who most profitably absorbed this lesson was Craig Costello, aka KR. Costello created the Krink brand of magic marker with a specially formulated runny ink. Krink® is credited for having “changed the look of vandalism” in New York. But if graffiti artists are now embracing expressionist drips, it’s no incidental sign of the painting process. The drips are often the whole point. (See: Zev’s graffiti logos and Advert Expressionism)

Surprisingly, Krink’s packaging does not feature drips1:

Krink’s packaging has a crisp, minimalist look that doesn’t scream graffiti… to leave the door open to a wider audience than taggers…

And the brand does present a different image than much of what is in online stores openly selling “graffiti supplies.” (On the Run markers, for example, feature a logo of a shadowy guy running with a spray-paint can.) Plenty of young artists have told Costello they love the Krink look — but they’re not graffiti writers and don’t intend to start. So when he talks about expanding into a product line that will make sense in a Pearl Paint store, or even a Michael’s, it’s a sentiment with more pragmatic origins than avoiding demonization as a vandal supplier: the market for the street-art aesthetic and influence is far bigger than the market of actual street artists.

Rob Walker, “Tag Sale
(New York Times Magazine” Consumed column, February 24, 2008)

If art suppliers and paint companies are refraining from letting their graphics drip down the sides—(see Turner Duckworth’s “Flawless” paint can)—why is it OK for food packaging? And do David Fung’s milk cartons and Nine99Design’s wine labels really fit into anyone’s definition of a “street-art” aesthetic?

(More questions, after the fold…)

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Low Pollution Food Unit


Reading James D. Ashley’s 1970 “Low Pollution Food Unit” —(a patent for edible cereal packaging assigned to The Quaker Oats Company)—gives one a vaguely Soylent Green sort of feeling in it’s pragmatic approach to impending ecological disaster:

This invention relates to a low pollution food unit comprising the integral combination of a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal with a new and unique packaging arrangement.

Pollution is increasingly becoming a worldwide concern. One problem that is now present is the magnitude of packaging materials which must be disposed of in some manner… Heretofore, ready to eat cereal packaging has consisted of an inner wrapping which is moisture-proof and is usually a metallic foil or some other nondegradable material which is in turn enclosed in a stiff paper cereal box…

The object of this invention is accomplished by a low pollution food unit comprising a ready-to-eat cereal completely enclosed in an edible milk soluble pouch… The consumer… when ready for consumption will remove the individual portion… place it in the cereal bowl , and add milk thereto. When the milk is added to the packaged product, the package will dissolve and the consumer will eat the entire contents in the same manner that a cereal product is normally consumed.

James D. Ashley
“Low Pollution Food Unit” 1970 (U.S. Patent 3,778,515)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design