The client threw down the design gauntlet: Design a product line for a new client with no marketing budget or name recognition that will compete in an overcrowded, complex market. But what would amount to a nightmare for many designers was a dream project for Yves Béhar. In designing the Philou line of hair products for teens, Behar recognized that the package design could make or break the products’ popularity. The resulting line of shampoos and conditioners has teenagers and adults alike clamoring for more. While teens are attracted to the atypical scents (flavors include licorice, bubble gum and apple), adults flock to the refreshingly simple design. “There’s an overwhelming number of positive aspects that make you want to handle the product. These aspects can then be interpreted in many ways: phallic, humorous, refreshing,” Sikora said. “The design is pregnant with possibilities.”
A top goal in creating the Philou line was to stray from the over-the-top marketing bombarding the teen market while also keeping clear of the “square” modernist trend prevalent in current packaging. Building on the primary geometry of a tilted oval, Behar created a spare but humanized form that brings to life the idea of a pure egg and other forms swollen with life. The resulting blow-modeled plastic bottles are curved to sit in the cradle of the hand and maintain a soft texture through the use of a thick, low-density polypropylene with a soft-touch finish. “In a culture obsessed with the streamlined, it’s satisfying to see a plump product with a little bit of curve,” Giasullo said. “They’re innocent and genuine, which is refreshing for a younger audience. It’s a nice departure from the hard-edge cynicism and sexuality in our culture.”
What was your overall objective?
As in most projects I enjoy, the objective was to create something of significance in an overcrowded and somewhat stale market. My client, Philou, had no brand recognition whatsoever and no marketing budget, so the physical design was the only way we would have a chance to make an impact.
How did you approach designing packaging for a teen market?
The world is full of clichés and design is all too often a way of perpetuating them. Our approach was to dismiss the current state of design for pre-teen products. Most youngsters have a more sophisticated self-image than the childish cartoons that adorn youth products.
What do you see as the special appeal of the final packaging?
I think the Philou line is trying something different with a mixture of expressiveness and elegance. As a result, the simpler yet expressive designs have been adopted by their intended audience. The other appeal is purely tactile: Once you have one in your hand, you can’t let go of it. Its asymmetric form finds a natural place in the hand.
How have consumers reacted to the design?
The bottles are drawing attention far outside the teen audience, with adults picking up the product in equal numbers. Stores are placing the Philou line in both kids and adult areas, which confirms what we all know: Good design is universal!
client/company: Philou Inc., San Francisco: Philippe Tordjman, president
consultant design: fuseproject, San Francisco: Yves Béhar, principal and designer
materials/fabrication: bottles are made out of a thick, low-density polypropylene with a soft-touch finish; each cap is an injection-molded ABS
hardware/ software: Apple Power Mac G4, SGI & NT Workstation, Alias|Wavefront, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator