Often times in my daily observations of various blogs and websites (as well as weekly grocery shopping), I’ve noticed a trend in regards to the categories of products whose design is featured or given special attention to. Wine and perfume, for example, are two categories that I seem to read about almost daily. While its obvious how some products lend themselves to elite design, others, such as olive oil, make me wonder what quality about the product results in it being the subject of so many great designs. Is the product inherently “cool”, thus creating a Mecca of packaging possibilities, or have a few great designs created an aura around these products, explaining the plethora of solutions surrounding them.
I think one has to approach this chicken and egg conundrum category by category. Take chocolate for example: it was sexy first, the packaging had to follow suit. Detergents and cleaning supplies? Design made them cool. But what about others? Water, tea, candles…why do some products seem to get so much effort while others receive far less? Are some products not as conducive for great design, or has simply no one made them worthy of attention yet?
I suspect what makes certain products the subject of so many design solutions is their relative generic-ness, requiring designers to do what they can to separate them from the crowd. This helps to explain olive oil and dish soap. But what about paper towels? Toilet paper? If product generic-ness is a “quality”, then why isn’t this a category overflowing with samples? Renova seems to have taken up the torch, but it seems few have followed.
All I know is, I’m ready to read about and see designs that don’t include bottles of wine/water, perfume, chocolate, olive oil, tea, or jars of honey & jam. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate good design no matter what its applied to, and I love that design has created excitement in these areas of everyday life, but kudos to those savvy designers who venture to create beauty in packages for seemingly blasé items like pencils, glue, caulk, house paint, rice and baby food, to name a few.