Vaughan Oliver, the graphic designer whose work defined the 4AD record label, has died. He was 62. His ethereal, surreal, magnificent album art for The Pixies, Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, and Clan of Xymox brought together design and music in a way that forever changed and elevated the design of music packaging. From The Guardian:
Oliver, born in 1957, grew up in County Durham and studied graphic design at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Polytechnic. “I was a working class lad from a dull town,” he said in 2014. “There was no real culture, my parents were not really interested in anything unusual – everything I was getting was through record sleeves. It was a democratic way of discovering art.”
He moved to London and in 1982 became the first employee for the record label 4AD. As their in-house designer, he created artwork that helped define them as purveyors of dark and complex alt-rock music; with their clashing fonts and boldly allusive but mysterious symbolism, his sleeves became some of the most revered in modern pop. “I like to elevate the banal through surrealism,” he said in 2014. “Mystery and ambiguity are important weapons in a designer’s arsenal.”
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In 2015, Amsterdam-based e-bike company VanMoof started shipping to the United States but found that a disproportionate number of them were damaged during shipping. So they started putting the bikes in fake flatscreen TV boxes. From VanMoof:
That small tweak had an outsized impact. Overnight our shipping damages dropped by 70-80%. We sell 80% of our bicycles online, which means we still print TVs on our boxes. More than 60,000 of them have now been shipped directly to our riders worldwide.
Now other bike companies do it too:
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Strength through progress - hundreds of MATE. ready and packed every week! 👉 #matebike
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How many plastic bread bag clips does Yakima, Washington's Kwik Lok sell annually? "It’s in the billions," says the company's sales coordinator Leigh Anne Whathen. According to Kwik Lok, company founder Floyd Paxton dreamt up the idea in 1954. I wonder if he imagined their other popular use as a makeshift guitar pick. From Atlas Obscura:
As the story goes, while he was on the plane, Paxton was eating a package of complimentary nuts, and he realized he didn’t have a way to close them if he wanted to save some for later. As a solution, he took out a pen knife and hand-carved the first bread clip out of a credit card (in some tellings, it was an expired credit card)...
According to Whathen, Kwik Lok secured a patent on their little innovation in the early days of the company, and to this day, Kwik Lok remains one of the only manufacturers of bread clips in the world. Whathen says that the only other firm she’s aware of is a European competitor called Schutte. Kwik Lok also has the distinction of still being owned by Paxton’s descendants. Floyd’s son, Jerre, ran the company until his death in 2015, and today it is owned by two of Jerre’s daughters. “We’re still going strong,” says Whathen.
"Most of the World’s Bread Clips Are Made by a Single Company" (Atlas Obscura)
(image: DANIELGAMAGE/CC BY-SA 3.0)
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At the Los Angeles Times, David Pierson unties the story of why doughnut boxes are so frequently pink, particularly in southern California. It's a story of Cambodian refugees who emigrated to the US in the 1970s and built the donut market. But why pink? From the LA Times:
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According to (Bakemark, formerly Westco) company lore, a Cambodian doughnut shop owner asked Westco some four decades ago if there were any cheaper boxes available other than the standard white cardboard. So Westco found leftover pink cardboard stock and formed a 9-by-9-by-4-inch container with four semicircle flaps to fold together. To this day, people in the business refer to the box as the “9-9-4.”
“It’s the perfect fit for a dozen doughnuts,” said Jim Parker, BakeMark’s president and chief executive.
More importantly to the thrifty refugees, it cost a few cents less than the standard white. That’s a big deal for shops that go through hundreds, if not thousands, of boxes a week. It didn’t hurt either that pink was a few shades short of red, a lucky color for the refugees, many of whom are ethnic Chinese. White, on the other hand, is the color of mourning.
Len Bell, president of Evergreen Packaging in La Mirada, first noticed the proliferation of pink boxes as a regional manager for Winchell’s in the early 1980s. Back in the Southland after a few years in Minnesota, Bell was amazed to see the doughnut business seemingly transformed overnight by Cambodian refugees, who proved quick studies and skillful businesspeople.
This curious glitch in the eco-matrix comes via Crappy Design—presumably the higher number is correct, but each country has different regulatory requirements for describing paper as recycled, so in goes the boilerplate.
Or maybe it's just a typo. Read the rest
See sample pages from this book at Wink.
How to Wrap Five Eggs: Japanese Design in Traditional Packaging
by Hideyuki Oka (author) and Michikazu Sakai (photographer)
Harper & Row
1967, 203 pages, 10 x 11.6 x 1.2 inches (hardcover)
From $35 Buy a copy on Amazon
This book is a museum of traditional packaging artifacts from Japan. Before the age of plastic, the Japanese perfected the art of packing consumables in incredibly ingenious ways. They excelled in using natural materials such as paper, straw, clay, and wood. Much of the packaging looks astonishingly modern, even though the form may be hundreds, if not thousands of years old. In fact, packages in Japan today often are wrapped in the same way. I recently received a gift from Japan that contained seven layers of boxes within boxes, wraps within wraps, each layer its own exquisite art, the packing at least equal to the cost and worth of the gift inside. There is a mesmerizing variety of packing collected during the last years of traditional Japan on display here. Each artifact is featured in stunning black and white photographs. It is a real inspiration for both designer and maker. Long out of print, this masterpiece of design was first published in 1967; used copies can be found today at rare book prices. It has also been republished in a modified paperback form, that contains some of the original content at a smaller scale. Read the rest
Retro Game Cases sells at least superficially-accurate replicas of the cases that old games came in: perfect for game hunters who've nabbed a cartridge from a crate and want it to take pride of place in their collection.
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Protective archival game cases are not only a safe way to protect your retro video games, but also a very appealing way to show off that retro collection you’ve been working on. Each case is designed using styles from the artwork of the original boxes. For those games that came in a horizontal style box (N64 & SNES), we offer both the original horizontal style and the vertical style designs. We are the leader in game cases and are very proud to have the largest selection (and growing daily!) of cases available online.
The Imedia Creative Bureau in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan designed this concept cow-swiping-UFO milk bottle.
We are trying to tend to come up with original and smart packaging or product designs. So this time the task was to create a milk package unlike anything on market shelves.
We wanted to find very abstract or distant association with milk and cow.
Cow being abducted by UFO is pretty common used image in pop-culture. But it was very unexpected idea for milk bottle. So we begun working on it. At first we sketched the shape of the bottle and its proportions. Then Kanat (our 3D designer) started to model the bottle while the rest of the team were looking for appropriate naming. We had some cool names like Cowsmilk (which reads like “cosmic”), Mimimilk and among them was Molocow.
As you know “moloko” is a Russian word but thanks to outstanding director Stanley Kubrick everybody knows this word, we suppose. Also we wanted to pay tribute to Stanley Kubrick’s greatest movie “Orange clockwork”, and “Space Odyssey – 2001″ which is sci-fi classic. We were happy with the product name.
Kanat worked on this project for a month roughly. He’s done the visuals
very well that some could take them as real ones.
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Every July 4, Cabel Sasser photographs the artwork used to sell that year's crop of Independence Day fireworks, which are a graphic design sub-genre that reflects pop culture sensibilities and the national mood. Read the rest
A new book, Material Innovation: Packaging Design, written by a material science consultant and a design consultant, explores the ways that packaging is being changed by innovations in retail, materials, design, and marketing. Read the rest
The Soviet space program inspired some of the great space-themed tchotchkes of the 20th century, including a whole line of cigarette packs from Russia and surrounding nations. Read the rest
Type Hunting will overwhelm you with delightful typographical specimens. (via Daring Fireball) Read the rest
The deluxe edition of dark IDM/R&B duo Beacon's new LP consists of rose-colored vinyl housed in an cast sugar box.
Hot damn, that's a nice chocolate bar wrapper. It's from Loom and Honest Chocolate, two South African companies, who explain the design to The Dieline:
"In August 2012 we ran a crowd-sourced design competition on 10and5.com (a local design design website) and invited creatives from around the world to design a unique chocolate wrapper for us. In just 6 days we received over 115 local and international entries from Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Namibia, Amsterdam, Toronto and Paris.
The winning design came from Cape Town based illustrator, Miné Jonker. She runs an agency called Studio Muti."
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Even a hard-hearted, card-carrying Republic member like me can't help but smile at Ma'amite, a Jubilee-commemorating rebranding for the tarry brown semi-edible (entirely delicious) substance Marmite.
Limited Edition Ma’amite Read the rest