Fresh

Visiting France again is a long awaited dream of mine, and it is something that I hope to accomplish within the next few years or so. When I was 19 years old, I traveled to Avignon and Cannes for a week and fell in love with the French people - their joie de vivre, their society's tendency to be reserved at first before opening up and showing a tremendous affection for others, and their zest for all that is good in this world: food, sex, and art. This beautiful country and the pride held within its land has resonated deeply within me all this time. I don't think I've ever met a French person who wasn't proud of being one. There is a good reason why this is so.

Seeing Anagrama's branding for Bonnard, a confectionery shop in Mexico that was inspired by and named for French post-impressionist painter, Pierre Bonnard, reminded me of the airy, carefree nature that was infectious for me from the getgo once I landed at Nice Côte d'Azur Airport. Pastel colors, swished brush strokes, and a simple san-serif typeface all pay tribute to Bonnard's method of artistry, as he was a man who had a deep devotion to color. He also loved macaroons, and this detail is examined in the cross shapes that lie within the wording on top of all the O's. A good studio finds ways to incorporate the special, important aspects of any brand in a quiet, unassuming, yet impactful manner.

Despite Mexico and France being continents apart, Anagrama was still able to take a slice of the latter's culture and make it an enjoyable and relatable experience no matter where you are. In my bedroom in New Jersey on the other side of the world, I sit here contentedly drinking in these sights until I'm able to take this journey once more.

IKEA

When I moved into my first apartment, my default source for furniture and appliances was the great IKEA. With its quirky yet functional layout designated to ensure that we walk through every single display and compile a list of things we want and need, IKEA is probably one of Sweden's greatest exports for the young and financially challenged home dweller. The simple and clean aesthetic of its products is probably what draws me in the most - that no matter where I live, I will always find something that matches with my surroundings in some way, shape, or form.

Recently, I noticed that the IKEA I go to opened a food mart near the entrance which sells native Swedish foods. The packaging for these mimic the same streamlined look and feel that I've grown to associate with the country of origin. Created by the Stockholm Design Lab, the purpose of the design was to evoke a sense of what and how meals in Sweden are presented and eaten, bringing a resurgence of interest to the overall Swedish culture, and providing a glimpse into the personalities of the Swedish people.

Some might say that this is indicative of a very stark and cold society. I say that done right, minimalism is never spartan, but honest and pure.

Feelings

I bought my first item off of Craigslist last weekend (a desk) and went to the seller's house to pick it up. The transaction was simple, the person I interacted with was nice, and then I was on my way. Driving home, it struck me suddenly that I would probably never see or speak with her ever again. That this little blip in both of our timelines was over.

It got me thinking about the number of people I see on an everyday basis and how often I go through this same situation. Whether it's in passing on the subway, a "You're welcome" for holding the door open for someone, a deep relationship you have, or a group of individuals you work with, it is safe to say that the window of opportunity to meet someone new occurs almost daily in our lives. Serendipity has a funny way of bringing people of all creeds together. What's even more striking is what happens when these masses leave us and we reflect back to the period where we knew them when. How they touched us in ways that will forever remain in the past.

No matter how different we are, what connects us together is an intricate family of feelings that we are all born with, and this vial set beautifully photographed by Valerio Loi depicts five such affects that echo the more positive qualities of ourselves and also demonstrate the traits that we are looking for in others. The sereneness of the packaging alongside the simplest of explanations for each attribute lays it down to barest and fullest, and forces us to be honest about what we really crave.

Flip the Switch

Continuing on with my packaging brigade, I found the work of German designer Jorn Beyer on Ignant today. Jorn has taken an interesting approach to rethinking the way certain liquor brands should be encased, raising the question of how dependent one's identity is to the container it is bound to. Certainly, the trademarks above are very well-known and their bottles recognizable across the spirits industry. But when these contents are placed inside standard beverage cartons, what becomes of them? What effect do they then have on consumers?

This discussion was something Jorn strived to encourage in his series titled Ecohols. It opens up several points including the idea that once a product has been conceived, born, and accepted into the general public, a drastic change in appearance is one that could be met with massive confusion. The oblong shape of the Absolut bottle is one that is so unequivocal that to see it in any other form could cause cognitive disruption. A second facet is that from a marketing perspective, a brand must be unique and individual from its competitors so consumers can distinguish from one to the next without difficulty. Having each liquor in duplicate packaging effectively reduces that character, and even though the identity of each is exclusive, each brand is seen as a subset of a parent, not standing alone.

On the flipside, the same notions could be said for placing milk and orange juice into regular liquor bottles. Would consumers then see those items for what they truly are, or would their judgment be clouded by the thing that houses it? With these further investigations raised, the human psychology of decision making is one that never ceases to amaze us.

It Don't Matter If You're Black or White

 

The concept of color is one that has intrigued me for a long time. You often think that the shades of red, green, blue, purple are what defines an object, and that without chromatism, it becomes a nonentity. From an early age, we are taught that the grass is green and the sky is blue and everything else falls in between. Certain pigments even have characteristics, which is why we buy pink articles for baby girls and blue for boys. Orange roofs make us hungry and red lips make a femme fatale. Even the color of our skin has given way to describing our racial backgrounds, inadvertantly and conveniently labeling who we are.

But the two extremes at both ends of the spectrum have the ability to speak volumes more than most hues could, and companies are taking advantage of that in their product packaging. YouTheDesigner has compiled a repository of 50 such examples where the only colors used in their design are black and white. Far from being washed out or boring, these items command your attention due to their choice to keep things modern, stark, and atomic. Because these products do not bear the bright coats that cover other goods, your attention is drawn to the fundamentals of the design, allowing you to inspect it for what it is. Perhaps this is the closest advertising can get to transparency.