Canned Vegetable Garden


I’ve seen canned plants before, but I thought these were intersting since the labels show photos of the produce, rather than the plant. Which makes the packaging look a lot like canned food.

(via: Noted at Gift Fair)


Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Real & Imaginary PANTONE Package Design



PantoneBlock2Seeing Room Copenhagen’s new “Pantone Universe” products at Gift Fair (like the multicolored, Mobius-strip shaped hangers above, left) set me to thinking about all the various and sundry packaged Pantone products—real and imagined. (Poster illustration on right is by Base Design)

Although many graphic designers seem to identify with this brand, it always seemed to me that the market for multicolored PANTONE accessories ought to be a pretty small niche. There would undoubtedly be brand loyalists who would happily eat, sleep & breath the PANTONE logo, but those consumers should be far fewer in numbers, than, say, consumers willing to wear a Coca Cola logo.

Pantone is ubiquitous in graphics departments around the world, the metric by which designers define just the right shade of blue for the Gap’s logo (Pantone 655) and the perfect pink for Barbie’s (Pantone 820). Pantone chips likewise help Kellogg’s enhance a cereal box to stand out on the shelf by using “spot” colors more vibrant than the mixes that emerge from the standard four-color printing press.

Allison Fass, “The Color of Money
Forbes, 2003

Still, despite a certain backlash tendency, there seems to be no shortage of licensing deals and creative energy expended in this direction.

Personally, I find the PANTONE color system a bit kludgy and cumbersome.

Their solid color matching system requires that printers have a set of 14 different PANTONE approved base color inks, in order to correctly mix all of the admixture hues and tones. To me, this is like some inelegant logarithmic table, compared to the simple and logical algebra of CMYK— with 4 process colors.

For certain colors, however, specially mixed solid color inks will be much brighter than CMYK combinations. Correctly specifying those “spot” colors has become increasingly important for retail consumer packaging and for that PANTONE has no competition.

Real and imaginary PANTONE products are generally much more effective when displayed in a multicolored group. (See: Rainbow Array Packaging)  Although PANTONE cannot trademark the idea of a color assortment, in the minds of many designers, color = PANTONE.

Graphically, these package designs are usually minimal, based as they are on the layout of a tiny color chip swatch with PANTONE’s Helvetica logo and identifying code number.

(1,114 examples, after the fold…)

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Evoque Candle’s Patented Box


Stopping by Trapp Candle’s booth at Gift Fair, I spoke briefly with Catherine A. O’Kane, a co-inventor of Evoque Candle’s patented box — a container whose lid is, itself, a container with its own lid.

A candle box for storing individual candles and candle accessories. The box includes a housing with a top opening, a tray for storing candle accessories that fits within the top opening of the housing, and a slidable lid for covering the tray. The housing has a bottom and four side walls that define the top opening. The tray has a bottom integral with four tray side walls that, when placed within the opening of the housing, engage the interior surface of housing side walls to create an airtight enclosure. The lid has a top cover and three side walls, two of which are adapted to slidably engage any two opposing side walls of the tray. The top cover includes a snap-lock for engaging one of tray walls when the lid is in the closed position.

Inventors: Joseph M. Rowley, Jr., Catherine A. O’Kane
Assignee: Faultless Starch-Bon Ami Company

I like the phrase “slidably engage” and I like the idea of a container serving as a lid for another container. (See also: Corks as Containers)

(The patent follows, after the fold…)

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“God Save The Tea”
Jamie Reid and Specificity in Punk Package Design


Make International’s “Punk Range” china (designed by Keith Brymer Jones) comes in a carton that references two different Sex Pistols record sleeves, originally designd by Jamie Reid.

Reid’s ransom-note collage technique came to typify “punk” style in the 1970s, but it’s surprising how many packaged products there are today that reference these two specific designs: 1. the “God Save the Queen” single sleeve (& poster) and 2. the LP cover for “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.”


As an American, I had the orange version of Never Mind the Bollocks, and I loved the intensity of the fluorescent orange, but I recognize that the earlier British release has more in the way of provenance. (See also: Talking Heads 77 fluorescent orange packaging)

(More, after the fold…)

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Also found at Gift Fair: Packaging for Tatine Candles “Foundry” line. The industrial vibe of these chipboard boxes caught our attention. The company’s founder explains Foundry’s package design this way:

“FOUNDRY Materialized from my love of industrial warehouses, design, and objet’, vintage motorcycles and the men who ride them, and of course, Rock n’ Roll. I admire history and craftsmanship in old buildings + things, how they were made and how they work. The collection reflects heavyweight found objects, completely handmade and re purposed in recycled glassware with vintage motorcycle racing numbers. The thick recycled chipboard box includes a copper grommet and leather pull…

The concept was in my head and designed and collaborated with perfection by the darling Becki, my beloved designer.”

Margo Breznik, Top Notes (The Tatine Candles Blog)

“Becki” referred to above, must be Rebecca Snyder of A La Mode Designs(the same firm that designed and developed the Tatine Candle website.)

Box-on-Press “On press” on left; “die” for die-cutting the boxes, on right

We weren’t the only ones who admired Foundry’s package design. It won “Best in Show” for NYIGF’s 2011 Extracts category.

(One more photo, after the fold…)

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Package Design on Your iPhone

HorizontalPhoneCasePacks Inexplicable drawn to Zero Gravity’s both at Gift Fair. When I saw some of their package-design iPhone cases, I figured that’s what must have been calling to me. Not all of their phone cases are designed to resemble consumer packaged goods, but enough so that it raises some questions. We’ve seen other cases of devices being made to look like packaging… cameras, radios and, yes, telephones.

But since Apple is unlikely to come out with cross-branded varieties of iPhone, if you are determined to possess a Velveeta iPhone, it falls to 3rd party venders of iPhone accessories to meet your needs.

Of course, there are also other package-related iPhone cases with different degrees of DIY.

Joanna Behar was experimenting with a candy-branded iPhone—(candy wrappers placed underneath a transparent iPhone case)…


In both of these examples—Zero Gravity’s faux-packaging and Johanna Behar’s DIY candy branding—the glossy plastic surface belies any sincere intention to fool the eye. These are still coveted hi-tech gadgets—with a glossy veneer of ironic low-brow branding.

Another DIY example: “Randomly Ross” has a Flickr Photostream about making iPhone cases from juice boxes and also offers them for sale on ArtBoxe.


Here’s a case in which the packaging cover serves a more truly undercover role:

“I was trying to find a material to make a case for electronic devices that would be durable, but not attract attention. Truth be told, the thing that first attracted me to juice-boxes is that they are ubiquitous and uninteresting. If someone looks into your purse and sees a book, some keys and a juice box, they aren't going to take the juice box. What if they see a brand new iPhone?”

In titling this post, it struck me how “Package Design on Your iPhone” could be interpreted two ways: as a covering to put on your iPhone and as an activity to do on your iPhone. Then I wondered, is there an app for that?

And I’m not the first pose the question. (See: Richard Shear’s Free iPhone package design app)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design


New Package Design for Warm Whiskers Eye Pillow

SingleCardAnother booth that we visited at Gift Fair last week was DreamTime, Inc. The new packaging for their line of Warm Whiskers eye pillows caught my eye, because of the way the product conceals the eyes of its face-shaped die cut cards.

I’m always on the lookout for packaging that functions as an anthropomorphic proxy—either for the seller or, in this case, for the consumer. It’s a wonderfully direct way of showing the product’s purpose—showing the eye pillow in use on a person’s face—but oddly attention-getting precisely because the person’s eyes are hidden.

Personally, I felt compelled to lift the mask up and peak underneath—just to confirm that there were actually eyes printed there! That kind of interaction with the product and its packaging can’t be a bad thing. (And I have, in the past, ruminated about why a retail package should never stare the consumer down.)

Previously this product was packaged in a fancy, but generic organdy bag.


The new cards come with an easel back for counter display and a hang hole to make them peggable. I’m not too crazy about the wishy-washy brand logo, but (to my eye) the packaging concept, the girly illustrations and the cute products more than make up for it.


I don’t have photos of them, but I also recall seeing anthropomorphic die cut displays for stuffed animal “neck wraps” at their booth…

(More about the “neck wraps” after the fold…)

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Geografia’s Polyhedral Planet


Twist02We went to Gift Fair last week (NYIGF) and one of the booths where I lingered the longest belonged to Geografia, a company that makes polyhedral paper globe kits, among other things.

When I saw the cube-shaped globe, above left, I said, “I bet that‘s a magic cube.” Sure enough the “Earth & Sky Twistable Globe” was a fully-functioning, folding and unfolding “magic cube” made from 8 smaller cubes—(the same sort of cube as our own Gumball Cube Pack).

In one state, the “Twistable Globe” shows a map of the world. Turned inside-out, it shows a map of the stars. (Really like the inside-outside / introvert-extrovert idea of this.)


FlipUnfolded Another intriguing reversible globe was their “Lands & Nations Flippable Globe” which was very similar to Jessica Comin’s “laranja mecánica” that we looked at recently. In her case, the cube could be turned inside-out to form a rhombic dodecahedron. The “Flippable Globe” is a cube that can be turned inside-out to form a regular dodecahedron. And its parts are tabbed, rather than permanently hinged together.


The projection of maps onto polyhedral shapes is something that Buckminster Fuller and others have also explored, but Geografia’s products manage to provide fascinating new polyhedral perspectives and (geo)graphic insights.

Here’s a video showing one of their “Sectional Globes” being assembled…

(We’ll be featuring more stuff from Gift Fair over the next week or two.)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Worm Bottles


“Worm bottles”—3 kinds:

1. The Lucas Gusano Liquid Candy Bottle

LucasGusanoOn left: photo of Lucas Gusano candy bottle by Elías Arriazola Lujambio; on right: Lucas Gusano packet & “Salsaghetti” (from Brian Temple’s Flickr Photostream)

You may recognize the Lucas Gusano bottle as another “accordion bottle” of the type we were looking at yesterday. (“Cool collapsible container contracts like an accordion!”)

The segmented shape of the bottle, however, in this case is also a metaphor for “gusano” — the Spanish word for “worm”— specifically, for the type of segmented larva that may or may not be a valid addition to certain alcoholic beverages made in Mexico.

Interestingly, this product also comes in a packet as a hot “salsa” sauce for the gummy worms of Lucas’s “Salsaghetti” candy. Mixing flavors, food ethnicities and metaphors with equal abandon, this candy-as-Mexican/Italian-spaghetti-as-worms product also includes a bit of cross-marketing in the form of a “Gusano” packet. Note how the packet features an illustration of a squirting Gusano candy bottle. (See also: Lucas “Crazy Hair” Candy)

2. Casta Gusano Real Reposado “Worm Bottle”


Casta Gusano Real Reposado is a tequila that comes in a figural, worm shaped bottle, but among true tequila aficionados, the reasons are controversial.

These whimsical bottles always turn a few heads. This product used to be called Gusano Real but the name was later changed to “Casta — Worm Bottle.” When I first saw these I thought they were a major tequila blunder propagated by one of the most common myths and misnomers about tequila. The fact that you’re reading this page means you probably know there are no worms in tequila at all (worms are put in some brands of Mezcal) and thank goodness there is no worm in this particularly good reposado. However, Gusanos (worms) commonly live inside agave plants, and this being a 100% Agave Tequila, distilled & bottled in Mexico, is, I’m sure where the image comes from. Plus a cool looking bottle doesn’t hurt if you’re marketing Tequila.

Poco Tequila

That’s right. It was never tequila that was supposed to have a worm. It was mezcal. (Sometimes.)

It is a misconception that some tequilas contain a ‘worm’ in the bottle. Only certain mezcals, usually from the state of Oaxaca, are ever sold con gusano, and that only began as a marketing gimmick in the 1940s. The worm is actually the larval form of the moth Hypopta agavis that lives on the agave plant. Finding one in the plant during processing indicates an infestation and, correspondingly, a lower quality product. However this misconception continues, and even with all the effort and marketing to represent tequila as a premium—similar to the way cognac is viewed in relation to brandy—there are some opportunist producers for the shooters-and-fun market who blur these boundaries.

Wikipedia entry on Mezcal

Which brings us to #3…

3. Bottles containing worms

Gusano-MezcalOn left: Gusano de Maguey in a bottle, waiting to be added to finished Mezcal (via: Wikipedia); on right a mini-bottle of Mezcal with large gusano (photo by Bud Spencer)

Alternate photo caption: Why settle for one measly worm at the bottom of a bottle of mezcal when you could be enjoying an entire jug?

Conclusions? If you’re like me (too old for gummy worms, but have not yet even tasted mezcal), I say: “Don’t get pressured into eating the souvineer gusano!” Choosing not to ingest this 1940s marketing gimmick does not make you culturally shallow or otherwise inauthentic. It just makes you less of a carnival geek.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Accordion Bottles


As with yesterday’s look at “accordion packs,” although there is one example here of a literally accordian shaped bottle from eBay, accordion bottles, for the most part, are those bottles with expanding/contracting, bellows-like features.

Prior to digital photography, photographers had the option of storing their darkroom chemicals in “air reduction” bottles which “expand and contract depending on amount of contained liquid to ensure it’s air tight and lasts longer.

There are also collapsible sports bottles, sometimes in the shape of a ball.

The bottle shown in the lower left of the photo above is Tnuva Milkshake’s 2003 “Accordion Milkshake Bottle.”

By using the new flexible ‘accordion’ bottle space saving technology the customer stretches to full capacity the flexible bottle only when he wants to consume the product, then the customer shakes the firm closed bottle to desired foamy structure and then only the customer opens the bottle.

via: Global Packaging Gallery

Sometimes accordion bottles are used as syringe-like dispensors, as with the Kuhn Rikon cake decorating bottles below.


We also featured a 2008 collapsible carbonated soda bottle concept by Swerve that was meant to prevent soda from going flat (similar to the darkroom “air reduction” darkroom chemicals bottles), but in recent years, the accordion bottle has been continually reinvented as a space-saving ecological solution.

Here are five examples:


1. Oto Musalek and Josef Zboril’s 2005 “NDC PET” bottle:

NDCBottleMy idea was to make a bottle whose volume could be easily reduced. It was obvious that it should fold like an accordion. But the first prototypes did not work because of certain properties of the plastic, so I had to adjust the design of the bottle.

via: Radio Prague

 Their idea also includes an unusual non-adhearing label concept which is intended to make the bottle more efficiently recyclable.

Its design enables an easy separation of the raw materials — the bottle, the label, the cap — and a simple condensation of the empty bottle. Its label is not fixed with adhesives but it is just put on the bottle’s neck.

via: Czech Design

Their patent appears to be for sale.


2. Brengt Brummer’s  2009 “Pop Bottle” is actually a water purification device, and may be a bad example of the accordian-bottle-eco-space-saving idea. It’s ecological, but not by virtue of its recyclability. Like those sports bottles we mentioned above, its collapsibilty has more to do with convenience. Still, it’s a cool looking bottle…

The water filtering system introduced by Bengt Brummer is designed for active users in different environments where the water quality cannot be considered as safe. Dubbed Pop Bottle, the dynamite shaped water bottle has the ability to collapse and expand as required.



3. James Hart’s 2009 “Twist Bottle” is an accordion bottle, by way of origami:

“This bottle was influenced by collapsible origami cylinders and aims to change the way we interact with plastic packaging. Aesthetics have been improved, whilst re-use has been encouraged and made more enjoyable.”

(2 more examples, after the fold…)

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Accordion Packs


Although one of the packages above is literally an accordion-shaped package, by “accordion pack” I really mean it more generally, as packages, designed “with features resembling an accordion or its bellows.”

With a need to contain varying quantities of a product, the bellows-like ability to smoothly expand and contract is a useful feature that many packages aspire to. The folded gusset of the once ubiquitous brown paper bag is, perhaps, the simplest application of this mechanism.

Here are 5 (more recent) examples:


1. Auberge du Soleil’s “squeeze box” package (designed by Evelio Mattos of Design Packaging Inc.) uses an accordion-like structure, first to protect, and then to expose its contents…

Built completely out of folding board, the squeeze box concept developed for Auberge du Soleil Napa Valley is 100% recyclable. The hand-made truffles are well protected by the internal divider which moves with the box and allows for optimal product display.

Evelio Mattos, LuxCrux


2. Camille Bloch’s “Accordéon” is an assortment of 6 Swiss chocolate bars, contained in a “twin-pack” of tins, connected by a bellows. According to Global Packaging Gallery, this package includes a “music module which plays Swiss music.” I’m interpreting that to mean that the bellows are merely conceptual, that electronic accordian music is emitted and that this package is a simulacrum and not a fully functioning “wind instrument.” (Correct me if I’m wrong.)


3. Popular Noise’s record cover construction for their series of 3-issue “record releases” is also an accordion related package. (via: The Dieline) The bellows-like expansion, is particularly remarkable, considering it appears to be made from a single, unglued piece of rectangular paper:

“The packaging folds out to a beautiful letter-pressed poster containing information about the Journal, the musicians, and the compositional process.”

The Journal of Popular Noise

(Examples 4 & 5, after the fold…)

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Chained Polyhedral Portion Packs


6thBottleSupport Trace Thoma’s 6-Pack employs a chain of five triangular prisms, each containing one bottle of assorted beers and winding into a pentagonal beer carton. The sixth bottle resides in the center space, and there’s some funny business about how it’s actually supported underneath. (See photo on right) But unwound, it makes an interesting display and I’d also be curious to see it displayed inside-out. (I think it would make a chubby, 5-point star shape.)


Stéphanie Sansregret’s “L’Kit de Survie” has six triangular boxes (containing assorted instant coffees) that wind together to form a hexagonal prism shape. (via: Packaging UQAM)

Note: Laurence Gregoire’s chocolate packaging—a string of 10 connected prism-shaped boxes—is another good example and can also be seen on Packaging UQAM.


Verónica Jarquín’s Ludo Pasta, envisions a 4-pack assortment of pasta varieties, contained in four connected triangular boxes that, I’m guessing, fold together to form a square. No picture of that, unfortunately.

(A related packaging patent, after the fold)

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