2002 Annual Design Review Packaging Best of Category
5S METASENSE PERFUME
Setting itself apart from what jurors called the “blobular” packaging so common among avant-garde perfumeries, the provocative bottle and case for Shiseido’s 5S adeptly combine hard and soft in a single packaging aesthetic. Angular without appearing sharp, the translucent plastic pieces work together to suggest a mysterious and tactile form. Whether viewed through the outer package or alone, the frosted lavender bottle seems to float in space without revealing its interior walls, the pump or the perfume inside. The vessel itself can be set down in several positions, depending on the user’s preference or mood. Yet the piece’s function is never hidden nor difficult to understand, and it’s comfortable to hold and use.
New York-based designer Karim Rashid reports that the material choice—blow-molded polypropylene—is integral to the packaging’s success. Stronger and easier to ship than glass, the plastic doesn’t need cardboard reinforcement or inserts to protect it, which allows the bottle and case to work together without additional printed pieces. The material also enabled Rashid to create the bottle’s unusual five-pointed shape (to reflect the 5S name).
“This is just a beautiful object,” Turner said. “The world needs more beautiful objects. The shape is extraordinary.” Hale described the shape as “Escher-esque” and the finish flawless and velvety. Both jurors were fascinated with the complex, angular shapes and experienced the same urge to turn the pieces over and enjoy the look and feel of them from different angles. Both also appreciated that the packaging is completely recyclable.
DID THE DIRECTIVE FOR CREATING UNIQUE PACKAGING COME FROM SHISEIDO, OR WAS IT YOUR IDEA? WHY DID EITHER OR BOTH OF YOU THINK IT WOULD SELL PERFUME? I generally start perfume design by using the smell as a point of entry. I create the object aura, the brand, the concept, and I even help create the name. The only criteria that came from the client was the smell of the perfume, a 100-milliliter size and a few photos of surreal, beautiful images of nature. I could smell love, peace, synthetics, lambent, organic. I coined the project “technorganic” to describe it, because the fragrance had an overwhelming, provocative memory of unknown scents mixed with the deepest sense of nature. I believe that experience is completely sensorial, and design must engage all the senses. This is how I approach all my clients and projects.
WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES INVOLVED IN DESIGNING AND MANUFACTURING THE PACKAGE? The project was extremely challenging. Why design something that isn’t? After presenting 10 bottles (I hate calling perfume vessels “bottles” because this implies an old-school approach where the glass bottle is a monument of branding and not an object that’s seamless with our time), we prototyped four. This project was rejected in plastic at first. Perfumes can corrode many plastics over time, so the polymer must be specially treated. After lengthy experimentation, we arrived at this bottle. The blow-molded form is complex, although it appears simple and minimal. A glass version would never be able to have such thin edges and precise, articulated geometry. The idea is less direction, a more omni-present object that’s super lightweight, very immaterial yet neo-luxurious.
YOU LIKE TO CREATE PACKAGING THAT CAN BE USED RATHER THAN THROWN AWAY. WHAT DO YOU SEE PEOPLE DOING WITH THE TRANSLUCENT WHITE PACKAGE? I have used this secondary packaging philosophy for several years now, creating secondary packaging to eliminate waste. There’s always a purpose for small containers-I use one as a wallet for Euros.
CLIENT 5S Shiseido, New York DESIGN Karim Rashid Inc., New York: Karim Rashid, principal; Yujin Morisawa, assistant designer MATERIALS|FABRICATION blow-molded polypropylene HARDWARE|SOFTWARE Macintosh G4, Ashlar-Vellum
When dairy operator Jill Schroeder of Maplewood, Minn., needed help making customers see her brand as a regional specialty rather than a commodity, she went to Minneapolis design firm Bamboo. “Our approach to packaging is different,” Bamboo owner Kathy Soranno says. “Clients hire us for our ideas.” Competitors’ packaging featured images of cows and farms. But looking at the product, Soranno saw something more. “Milk is pure, simple and pristine,” she says. “So we created a package that captured the beauty of the product inside.”
Instead of contented cows or happy farmers, Bamboo’s design features only spare, classic type that seems to float on the opaque-white plastic bottles. Schroeder is the first company in the region to use the plastic, which keeps milk fresher by blocking light. Bamboo’s creative use of typography, though strictly logical, creates a colorful personality for each type of milk. Progressively thinner letters spell out the percentage of fat content, beginning with chunky “whole” and ending with lean “skim.” Both intuitive and fun, the system never overpowers the fundamental message of purity and freshness.
Jurors found the labels “a delight,” and Schroeder reports that the new look is helping her family-owned business break into the upscale market. “We’re all excited about it,” she says. “Customers say they love it.”
THE SPARE, SWISS LOOK IS UNUSUAL FOR ANY CONSUMER PRODUCT AND QUITE A SURPRISE ON A MILK BOTTLE. WHY WAS IT APPROPRIATE FOR THIS PROJECT? Schroeder needed consumers to see something new and different in the dairy case. To attack the commodity myth and to elevate the perception of the milk, we addressed the functionality, personality and quality of the package. We created a minimalist white package to reflect purity and freshness. The clean aesthetic echoes the sophisticated, progressive technology behind Schroeder’s superior-tasting product. The large letterforms drive the overall design but also address how consumers purchase milk. Finally, we capitalized on consumer loyalty to different fat-content levels by creating distinctive milk “personalities.”
HOW DOES THE PROJECT REFLECT YOUR DESIGN PHILOSOPHY? Bamboo’s fundamental design philosophy centers on four key principles: reflection, recognition, risk and relation. Our job is to reflect the essence of what makes our clients’ products unique. We used Schroeder’s innovation and progressiveness to frame milk’s essential purity and simplicity. The Schroeder packaging is intended to build sales by stimulating recognition, memory and repetition. With more than 10,000 grocery brands competing for each customer, creating packaging that looks and feels different can sometimes involve taking risk. In the dairy category, we found that meant not using images of a cow or farm. Our belief is that packaging has to help you own your position, so if you can’t own the cow or farm, then you shouldn’t bother with them.
WERE THERE MANY DESIGN PARAMETERS FOR THIS JOB? Schroeder’s rich history of technological innovation is a great story in itself, so the only charge was to elevate consumer perception of its milk and to create an innovative package and brand that truly reflect the company.
CLIENT Schroeder Co., Maplewood, Minn.: Jill Schroeder, president DESIGN Bamboo, Minneapolis: Kathy Soranno, principal; Jenney Stevens, designer; Judy Soranno, copywriter; Anna Smith, project coordinator MATERIALS|FABRICATION gallon and half-gallon labels: 50-pound semi-gloss stock, flexographic printing using UV inks with gloss-over laminate; pints and quarts: gravure printing on 65-percent machine direction-oriented shrink PVC, reverse-printed and applied image side against bottle HARDWARE|SOFTWARE Macintosh G4, QuarkXPress, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator