The Velvet Underground: Book & Banana


Only collectible because of the influential band that named themselves after a copy they found in the street: this 1963 paperback “The Velvet Underground” by Michael Leigh (on left) was given to me as a birthday present around 1983–84. (from someone in another rather influential band)

Can’t say I’ve ever read it cover to cover, but I like the whippy “T” typography and have kept it in its protective plastic for 28 years. (Also: am I crazy or is the S&M boot illustration by Paul Bacon Studio on the cover kind of related to Warhol’s early shoe illustration work?)

The book on the right was a 1968 follow up sequel. (Nice that it features a photo of the earlier book.)

Also collectible: the first Velvet Underground album (below left)—the one with the peel-able yellow banana skin sticker. (We have one of those too, but only because Debby was cool enough to buy one and her records are mixed in with mine.) It always struck me funny how Andy Warhol’s signature was so prominent with no mention at all of the Velvet Underground or Nico on the front cover. Similar to Robert Brownjohn’s humorously arrogant stationery design for Michael Cooper. (Of course there might have been more information on a label affixed to the disposable shrink-wrap…)


The album with the green banana (on right) is the 2007 “Unripened” bootleg LP, made from an acetate pressing of an earlier version of the official 1967 release. (different mixes, different takes, etc.)

On the original cover the small printed instructions read, “PEEL SLOWLY AND SEE”;  the instructions next to the green banana read, “UNRIPENED LISTEN SLOWLY AND HEAR.”

There are lots of other versions of (and allusions to) this album cover, and Warhol’s silkscreened banana design has been pretty influential in its own right.

(A bootleg book/record cover and some related Warhol/Velvets banana merchandise, after the fold…)

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Orthographic Packaging for Herman Miller Blocks


Relating to our earlier post about packages that feature orthographic projection of their contents: these Herman Miller blocks by House Industries certainly do that, but here the direction of projection is flipped.

The carton—(based on the original Herman Miller furniture box “that was used to deliver American modernism”)—orthographically projects its panels inward, onto the sides of the blocks contained within.

What you see is still what you get, but the very nature of the product—the design of the blocks—is dictated by its packaging. (Rather than the other way around)

The package/product design also makes use of of House Industries’ Eames Century Modern fonts. (X-acto knife is just to show scale, I think.)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Walkin’ Cigarette Pack


Looking at cigarette pack Christmas trees, I happened to see this 1960s Lark Walkin’ Cigarette Pack. (via:

I think there was also a Lucky Strike version of this wind up toy. The footprint motif on the carton is very reminiscent of the 1964 Hang Ten surfing brand logo

Which led me in turn to this trademark page showing that in 1977 Philip Morris filed a trademark for “Hang Ten” cigarettes. (Which make me wonder: “Did they ever make any of those?”)

(More photos of the Walkin’ Cigarette Pack, after the fold…)

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Cigarette Packs as Christmas Tree Ornaments


While Raymond Lowey’s “Christmas Carton” turned the Lucky Strike logo into a sort of Christmas tree ornament—(see previous post)—the idea of using actual cigarette packs to decorate a Christmas tree was even more prevalent.

The three ads above all use this same concept: Lark Cigarettes in 1969 (via:, L&M Cigarettes in 1956 (via: and Chesterfield Cigarettes in 1945 (via: Jon Williamson’s Flickr Photostream).

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Raymond Loewy’s Lucky Strike “Christmas Carton”

ChristmasCarton Top photo via:; lower photo via: Worthpoint

From 1955: Mr. Raymond Loewy’s Lucky Strike “Christmas Carton”…

Rare that a television commercial ever notes the package designer, but Loewy was unusally high-profile:

He began designing packaging and logos in 1940 when George Washington Hill, then president of the American Tobacco Company, wagered him $50,000 that he could not improve the appearance of the already familiar green and red Lucky Strike cigarette package. Accepting the challenge, Loewy began by changing the package background from green to white, thereby reducing printing costs by eliminating the need for green dye. Next he placed the red Lucky Strike target on both sides of the package, increasing product visibility and ultimately product sales. A satisfied Hill paid off the bet, and for over 40 years the Lucky Strike pack has remained unchanged.


(A Christmas carton magazine ad follows, after the fold…)

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Robert Motherwell & Gauloises Caporal


In the late 1960s Robert Motherwell, better known for his black & white, abstract-expressionist paintings, felt an attraction to Gauloises blue cigarette packaging:

I remember when in the last few years I made a series of aquatints with the Gauloises blue cigarette package—because I love that blue as part of the image—Helen Frankenthaler looking at me with stupefaction and saying, “I can’t imagine you being a Pop artist.” And certainly from the French point of view it must look like Pop Art. To me it looked as exotic as Tahiti must have looked to French travelers.

Robert Motherwell, 1971 (via:

(A couple of his cigarette pack aquatints, after the fold…)

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Mallomars Evolve


MALLOMARS1953 The evolution of Nabisco Mallomar packaging… From “cakes” to “cookies” and more recently from flat typography to 3-dimensional, marshmallow letters with an outer dark-chocolate stroke and multiple drop shadows. Subscribing to the theory that product logos are more effective if they simulate the texture and composition of the product, itself. (As with another Nabisco cookie whose logo is made to resemble a “creme” filling)

The inset photo on right of Mallomar’s 1953 Cellophane pack is via: The Karmic Kitchen.

Below: a press proof of an earlier Mallomars wrapper (1930s–1940s ?) from Jason Liebig’s extensive packaging collection on Flickr.


(A video concerning Mallomars’ “seasonal” issue, after the fold…)

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Volkswagen Box


1960s “Get a Box” campaign by Doyle Dane Bernbach compared the Volkswagen bus to a corrugated carton (in poster above) and to a shoebox (in the TV commercial below).

(Print ad follows, after the jump…)

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Packaging & Orthographic Graphic Design


I used to think of orthographic projection strictly as drafting technique: those technical drawings, by which any 3-dimensional object could be described in 3–6 views.


G5-box In recent years, however, I’ve noticed it turning up as a packaging scheme (see: Mac G5 box, on right) and it does make a certain sense as a way of clearly indicating what’s in the box.

In packaging, as in mechanical drawing, 3 views are usually sufficient to describe most objects. In Art Lebedev’s Paliha-750 telephone carton, however, he has chosen to feature all six, “You can look at it from all sides, while it’s still inside the box.”

Having the outside of a box so closely correspond with the product it contains, makes the packaging function almost as a proxy. Holding the box, the consumer is, in effect, holding a trompe l’oeil product replica. Each panel serves as a diagram of what’s just below the surface. Almost as if the box was invisible and you were seeing right though it. In situations where an actual die window is not feasible, it’s a pretty neat trick.


Above, Marc Brownlow’s automotive light bulb pack:

Packaging system for a specialty aftermarket automotive company. The package uses orthographic “x-ray” views of the bulbs in lieu of clear “windows” to minimize cost.


Another light bulb packaging project, this one by Oliver Meier, also uses orthographic projection. (via: Packaging of The World)


David Graas’s “Not a Box” package clearly shows an orthographic projection of a hanging light with a round shade, but the joke here is that the cube-shaped box is itself the shade and the light is emitted through the misleading lines of the diagram.


The Heliotropium bottle by CPDS is a similar bait and switch. The box shows orthographic projections of a traditional ornate perfume bottle, but inside the box, the bottle is actually box-shaped. (via: the Dieline)

Internationally it was decided to “hide” a bottle. A bottle is in a bottle. The new hides in the previous. The bottle is a box, the box is a bottle. On each side of the box the bottle’s image, the image of it’s each side is placed. The box is designed in such a way when it opens, the drawn bottle opens too. And inside… inside there is other bottle, the real one.

(Some other examples, we’ve featured before, after the fold…)

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