Lux™ (Limitless Universal Construction System)


BEACH was hired to design toy packaging for an intriguing new construction system called Lux™, designed by Mike Acerra.


LuxPolyhedron“Lux” stands for “Limitless Universal Construction” system. If that phrase reminds you of Alan Turing’s “universal machine,” it might just be an appropriate point of reference for this game-changing toy.

One of the remarkable things about Acerra’s patent pending system construction system is the surprising variety of exotic polyhedral shapes that you can build from pieces that are essentially square.

Lux was designed to be the ultimate building system for kids, teachers, artisans, do it yourselfers, inventors, scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, and design scientists, and renaissance types. Lux can be used to model and generate new understandings of the diversity of nature including living systems, atomic and molecular structure, wave and particle behavior, and all forms of architecture. It achieves this versatility because its elements are connected via specially designed hermaphroditic snapping hinges that allow for a limited degree of angular freedom (or choice) per connection.

And because the connections are hinges, kinetic movement is an unexpected bonus that’s built into the product. (I look forward to posting a video demonstrating that feature sometime soon!)

Designing age-appropriate toy packaging for products with the potential to appeal to both kids and adults can be a challenge. As someone with a long-standing fascination for polyhedral structures, however, designing packaging for Lux™ was a perfect fit.

(More photos of Lux™ and its packaging, after the fold…) [Read more…]

Packaged (past tense): the Tandem Shampoo bottle

Tandem Shampoo bottle

I don’t know what it is about bifurcated packaging that we’re so drawn to.

Maybe there’s something about duality in containers that we just identify with as people. A left-brain/right brain thing?  I’m thinking back to the Nerds candy box and similar divided boxes. (See also: Nerds Cereal)

This dual-chambered bottle design for Bristol-Meyers’ Tandem Shampoo, was patented in 1961 by industrial designer, Walter T. Heintze.

A patent for its “Dispensing Closure” cap was obtained in 1963 by Ralph H. Thomas.

A commercial for Tandem shampoo is below. (Music by Wade Denning.)

But this is only half of our “Tandem Shampoo” content. (See what we have in the other half of this post, after the fold…) [Read more…]

Box Family


From Victor Design (the same firm that created the brilliant polyhedral pineapple packaging) we bring you their 2012 “Box Family” (also designed for TK Food.)

Google translate gives us the phrase “Block family screwdriver packaging design,” the word, screwdriver, I’m guessing refers, not to the contents of the packages, but to the tool-like appearance of the overall packaging structure.

Mounted on taller boxes, each containing a twisted “crisp,” the family of heads were designed to differentiate the 4 flavors.


[Cheese – cheese dog]
Cheese dog, box cakes family dog, naughty naughty good move, often amuse everyone laugh. Cheese aroma and unique flavor of rich, so delicious even more points!

[Eggs – egg sister]
Eggs sister, little sister in the family box crisp, lively and full of imagination, as we create a lot of joy. Fragrant fresh eggs taste great taste just right, it is admirably good choice.

[Oolong – grandfather oolong tea]
Oolong grandfather, box elder family wisest, kind gentle good humor, much of our respect. Crisp taste, exudes quiet and delicate tea aroma, it is deeply immersed.

[Shallots – cool guys onion]
Shallots cool guys, crisp family block cool guys stunning, maverick street dress, always attract people attention. Hong Man unparalleled lush in the mouth, so the more you eat the more addictive.

Which family member consumer should I identify with here? I’d like to think I was the green-haired, cool-guys-onion type, but if I’m honest, I must admit I’m probably more of a grandfather-tea, “box elder” type.

(One more photo, after the fold…) [Read more…]

7 Mobius Zippers

Mobius Zippers

Here’s another nice example of coincidentally parallel thinking: Möbius zippers. That is to say, zippers fashioned into Möbius strips.

7 such Möbius zippers, after the fold… [Read more…]

Handbook of Package Design Research

Walter-Stern-Handbook-Package-Design-RersearchIn our previous post about the 1967 packaging for “That Look” shampoo, the design director cited was Walter Stern.

His name sounded familiar to me because I have one of his books next to my bed. My copy of Stern’s Handbook of Package Design Research looks just like the one on the right, except that mine is not shrink-wrapped.

The shrink-wrapped copy could be yours, actually. (It’s for sale on Amazon for $1.20.)

Stern is the editor of the book. It’s a collection of essays by different writers, some of whom are familiar names… (Louis Cheskin, Herbert M. Meyers, Ernest Dichter)

The book begins with an introduction by Stern…

Package design research—the use of scientific methods to evaluate the degree to which a product’s personality, claims, and benefits are communicated to the consumer through the structure and graphics of its package—has been practiced in one form or other since the early 1950s…

Walter Stern, 1981

Packaged (past tense): That Look shampoo

From Bristol-Myers in 1967: That Look shampoo.

As a naming strategy, that type of brand-name casts a pretty wide net. “That look” sounds specific, but it might also suggest any look that a consumer happened to have in mind.

According to an article in AdAge, “That Look” was marketed as a “youth-oriented shampoo.”

That Look’s packaging was designed at Raymond Loewy/William Snaith. The design director was Walter Stern.

The teardrop shape of this white PVC container for Bristol-Myers’ That Look Shampoo container complements the sloping contour of the white closure. The paper labels are applied to indented panels on front and back.

Industrial Design, 1967

Also worth mentioning: fluorescent colors on label…

Blow-moulded vinyl bottle for shampoo. Label printed in black, fluorescent pink and orange.

GraphisPackaging 2

What might that look like? Since the product wasn’t on the market too long, there don’t seem to be any examples of the vintage bottle for sale on eBay.

See my simulated guesswork, after the fold…

[Read more…]

Numerical Packaging Design Countdown


654321Numerical packaging design. Why do some companies number their product line’s packaging?

Some brands enumerate to differentiate between product varieties.

Others number their packaging to show a recommended sequence of product use, making “instruction” a key brand component.

And, for some brands, numbering products gives them an air of hi-tech modernity, as if their products were software upgrades. This idea, however, is not really so new…

ChanelNo.5-Fragrance-Austin-Calhoon-PhotographNo Venetian nights or dreams of Samarkand for the resolutely modern Coco when she launched her extraordinary perfume in 1921. She named it “Chanel No. 5,” as if she were an aviator and this were her flying machine—like the Voisin III or the Biériot XI, two famous airplanes of her time. The world was mad for numbers in the early decades of the last century. Numbers meant setting records and calculating profits. Culture might do without mathematics, but modern life could not.

…in 1926 Vogue alluded to an American context for Chanel’s modernity. Recognizing the radical aspect of her “little black dress,” the editors, beneath an illustration in the October 1 issue, noted its affinity to that ubiquitous and thrilling invention, the automobile: “The Chanel ‘Ford’—the frock that all the world will wear—is model “817,” of black crepe de Chine.

…From Henry Ford’s assembly line to the arrangement of tiny tucks across the front of Chanel’s dress was but a small step for Vogue, the two seemingly disparate realms linked by the cachet (if not the reality) of mass consumption. it was not just the automobile industry but also the fashion business itself that offered a numerical poetry.

…Chanel, in effect, restored the utilitarian system of numbering

Kenneth E. Silver, Flacon and Fragrance: The New Math of Chanel No. 5.
Chanel (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Here are 6 interesting examples of this trend, arranged in a countdown hierarchy.

(Details of each, after the fold…) [Read more…]

Packaged (past tense): Fuzzy Wuzzy


FuzzyWuzzy-1966-boxFuzzy Wuzzy was an odd soap from the 1960’s. Shaped like an animal, packaged in an air-tight plastic pouch, the soap would acquired a “fur” when exposed to the air.

A self-rhyming brand name, “Fuzzy Wuzzy” was registered as a trademark for soap in 1966 by Aerosol Corporation of America.

Sold in a circus-wagon shaped carton with a die-cut window (resembling “cage bars”) and a circus platform depicted on the back of the box. This panel of the package was a sort of a staging area where kids were instructed to “set” their “bald” soap animal in preparation for the furry transformation that would soon take place.

A perforated punch-out was included on this panel with instructions to “PUSH OUT THIS TAB AND INSERT BASE OF FUZZY WUZZY.”

Fuzzy Wuzzy bath soap carton sold last month on eBay for $34

The question we seek to answer today is two-fold:

1. the inventor of Fuzzy Wuzzy: who was he?

2. the package designer for Fuzzy Wuzzy: who was he?

While box vox does not claim to have all  the answers, we’ve learned this much: if you choose an obscure enough topic, you can pretty much tell any shaggy dog story you wish. Which is not to say that we lie. Or that there is no interest in Fuzzy Wuzzy bath soap and the technology behind it.

Some have wildly assumed that the 1966 product manufactured by Aerosol Corporation of America contained live mold spores. (Wrong.) Others have correctly surmised that the soap’s fur is a form of crystallization: efflorescence.

Our conclusion?

1. The inventor was a German chemist named Kurt Ludwig Von Stoesser.


While we found no hard evidence linking Von Stoesser’s patents to Aerosol Corporation of America, it’s abundantly clear from reading his patents that the whole idea of an animal-shaped soap that grows efflorescent fur, was his.

No smoking gun, but just check out his 1966 U.S. patent filing for “Efflorescent Composition” and his earlier 1961 British patent filing for “Improvements in or relating to soap,” an excerpt of which is highlighted below:


Photo of Fuzzy Wuzzy boxes via: BlazenFluff

SoapThatGrowsFur-Dangerous-1966Many have have wondered what secret ingredient Fuzzy Wuzzy bath soap might have contained. The side of the carton says only that “the secret is in a safe cosmetic ingredient activated when exposed to air.”

How safe was it?  While we have not turned up any FTC or FDA documents citing hazards in Fuzzy Wuzzy bath soap, there was this troubling 1966 newspaper clipping from Pennsylvania.

New Soap That Grows “Fur” Seen Dangerous

The Wilkes-Barre Health Department Friday ordered a soap product manufactured by Aerosol Corporation. removed from the shelves of stores because it was considered “dangerous.”

Acting Health Officer Edward J. Pugh identified the product as “Fuzzy Wuzzy Bath Soap.”

…Pugh said barring of the product came after a Dallas woman complained to the State food inspector about the soap. She said her 17-month-old boy chewed the head off the soap “animal.” The baby became ill with a sore throat and his mouth started to swell. She said the child was taken to a doctor and then placed in a hospital for three days.

Directions on the soap state when it is taken from the air-tight bag, it will begin to grow “fur.” Within three days the directions state, the soap will have a “fur coat.”

May 23, 1966 Standard-Speaker (Hazelton, PA)

It’s interesting that the article implies a connection between the toddler’s 3 day hospital stay, and the 3 day fur growth period mentioned in the Fuzzy Wuzzy soap commercial. As if to suggest that it was the 3-day-long “Fuzzy Wuzzy” chemical reaction that determined the length of the poor child’s hospital stay.)

Fuzzy Wuzzy before and after exposure to air (photo via: via: BlazenFluff)

And Fuzzy Wuzzy’s package designer?

(after the fold…) [Read more…]

Clinker Pots

Clinker Pots

Bifurcated-BottleWhat are clinker pots? That’s what I wanted to know, when a Google search for “bifurcated bottle” led me to Clayton Bailey‘s 2007 Clinker Pots page.

For him clinker pots are one of his various oeuvres of self-destructing “extreme pottery.”

Native red clay is mined on the artist’s property, and is inoculated with a material containing fossil carbon. This makes the clay expand like bread dough when it is fired to 2000 degrees F. The result is the appearance of an explosion frozen in time.

But there is another definition of “clinker pot” relating to a definition of the term “clinker” as a term for… “The incombustible residue, fused into an irregular lump, that remains after the combustion of coal.”

Some coals formed clinker pots; that is, they developed a solid mass of clinker in the middle of the fire pot. This formation usually took the form of a basin, or bowl; that is, the first clinker formed near the grate decreased the air supply to the coal above it and restricted its burning, while the ash of the coal that burned at its edges built up clinker around it.

P. Nicholls and W.A. Selvig
Clinker Formation as Related to the Fusibility of Coal Ash, 1932

Clinker Pots in this context are a container-shaped residue.


Message in a Bottle

Thats-what-I-really-call-a-message-in-a-bottleMessage in a bottle? (No, not the song by The Police.)

This is the way Rocky & Bullwinkle used to introduce a commercial break on their cartoon show. When Bullwinkle archly inquired whether the bottle contained “Fan mail from some flounder?” Rocky was emphatic, “No. This is what I really call a message.”

I always thought that was a nice touch: an incomprehensible symbol for some supposedly important information.

(See also: Incomprehensible Logos in Men’s Hearts)