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Spotlight

Post Revisit: A Snapshot of Specialty Coffee Packaging

Its always good practice (and fun!) to take a look back and reread what we’ve written about during the life of our little blog. We recently revisited a post from August 2013 titled “A Snapshot of Specialty Coffee Packaging” (click here to read.)

The post focused on coffee packaging — where we’ve been, where we are presently, and where we predicted we were going. While it was good to revisit the whole post, we’d like to focus on that last bit — the part where we predicted where we felt the specialty coffee packaging was moving towards. Below is the actual snippet from our post:

“We believe the future of specialty coffee packaging will move away from the simple, clean, industrial look for a more expressive style that really shows the personality of the brand. We think customers don’t need to see another kraft bag to denote quality and an expressive bag will also do a better job telling the story, something that is resonating more and more with shoppers nowadays .”

The reason we revisited this post is because we’re seeing a lot of examples of the very thing we were predicting (which is very exciting) which means we might know a little bit about what we do!

Two great examples of what we predicted coming to life are Starbucks special Tribute Blend packaging and Brewklyn Grind Coffee Roasters rebrand and packaging. Both hit home the thought we put forth about “moving away from clean, simple industrial look” and move towards “a more expressive style.” We even had conversations about how cool coffee packaging would be with fine art prints on the label- something Brewklyn pulled of nicely. 

Image via The Dieline

Image via The Dieline

Starbucks Tribute Blend

As you can see in the Starbucks packaging they are getting really conceptual with this design. Take a look at that bag. It’s just designs and elements with this beautiful painterly circle as the focal point. The asymmetrical design is very eye catching and grabs your attention on shelf. There’s no denying the contents are something special and unique. 

Starbucks is no stranger to expressive packaging and is one of the few specialty coffee companies whose packaging moved away from the kraft coffee bag look long ago — but the Tribute Blend feels new and fresh. We feel like it really embodies the vision we laid out back in August.

Image via The Dieline

Image via The Dieline

Brewklyn Grind Coffee Roasters

Brewklyn Grind has really embraced expressive fine art for their new packaging and redesign. What’s really neat about Brewklyn Grind is they are collaborating with local Brooklyn artists to help create the art for their packaging. It’s not just some random digital design they’re using. We find this to truly embody “artisan” and take it to a whole new level. Why not make each bag a little work of art? Those who appreciate fine coffee are usually the same people who appreciate fine art. 


So there you have it. We’re very interested to see how this trend will play out in the coffee packaging landscape over the next year or so. Who knows- we might have to revisit this post!

Happy Mardi Gras: A Spotlight on New Orleans Creatives

In honor of Mardi Gras we’re highlighting a few standout creative firms in the Big Easy whom we’ve discovered with the power of the internet. New Orleans definitely has its own style and flavor, whether its food, cocktails, or creative work and the following agencies and creatives have the work to prove it.

Line 58

The first agency is Line 58. While their name is relatively new( they used to go by Zande+Newman) they’ve been around since 1991. Their name comes from the rail line that goes from New Orleans to Chicago and carries the famous “City of New Orleans” train. So with that symbolism in their name, there’s no wonder they embody the spirit of their city. They’ve got some great work all around but these projects really stood out to us.

The Savvy Gourmet

Being in the food retail world ourselves this project is very close to home. Line 58 worked with their client to create everything from visual branding to fixtures and finishes in the store environment. A logo is one thing, creating everything else is a whole other ball of wax that they make look easy. We really like the in-store signage — it looks inspired by old letterpress posters, but with a contemporary spin. They are nice and bold but fit within the space without looking out of place. We also appreciate the thoughtfulness in the elements used in the interior to evoke a modern New Orleans, without resorting to using trumpets and fleur-de-lis.

Image via Line 58

Image via Line 58

The Building Block

The other Line 58 project we’re drawn to is the identity for The Building Block. We really like the use of overprint and transparency to create the “B” letterform, its just so much more interesting that just slapping a B up there and calling it a day. They also did a great job working that transparency into the other brand materials, such as the website’s big green box.

Image via Line 58

Image via Line 58

Thinka

Our next stop is a studio called Thinka. They have some interesting work, and based on what they’re showing in their portfolio they look like they’re a witty group of folks.

Emmett’s Fine Meats & Seafood

Another food retail identity, the work Thinka did for Emmett’s is really great. Its a homegrown butcher shop in New Orleans and the logo really embodies the shop. We really appreciate the industrial/vintage feel with simple typography, nice design flourishes, and a bright color palette. We also like the use of the “New Orleans Louisiana” stamp element used on all the pieces and is a nice consistent recognizable element.

Image via Thinka

Image via Thinka

Pizzacare

The other Thinka work we really dig is the logo for Pizzacare. Its got nice bold sans serif type sitting in a circle that evokes a pizza shape or even a record. The colors Thinka chose for the identity are nice as well and give the warm feeling of a tasty pie. The whole logo feels like its been around forever (in a good way) and looks great really large in a sign as well as on the menu.

Image via Thinka

Image via Thinka

Nancy Sharon Collins, Stationer

Our next visit brings us to Nancy Sharon Collins, Stationer. This is a one woman creative powerhouse in New Orleans proper who’s been around for quite some time. She creates incredibly intricate and beautiful designs either for traditional packaging, engraving, or stationery. She even has written a book about the history and context of social stationery.

Liz Claiborne’s Curve fragrances

Who hasnt seen this packaging? Nancy Sharon Collins developed the packaging for this line of fragrances. I remember seeing these on the shelf and loving the hand drawn lettering for “Curve”. It wraps so nicely around each application, one can tell she considered all the different shapes and sizes her design would be applied to. The colors are quite nice as well and feel very luxiourous — a good feeling to evoke in a line of fragrances.

Image via Nancy Sharon Collins

Image via Nancy Sharon Collins

Engravings

We also really love Nancy Sharon Collins’ engravings. She says “Engraving is the highest form of printmaking known” and while we do other forms such as screen print and wood block, we tend to agree with her. She creates beautiful delicate designs as shown below. In the tree example you can almost see every little leaf. In the monogram example theres a nice play of thick line weights and super thin flourishes- wonderful examples of whats attainable when you are a master of you craft. This monogram would be at home on any gate at a Garden District mansion.

Image via Nancy Sharon Collins

Image via Nancy Sharon Collins

CPR+Partners

The final creative shop on our tour of New Orleans is CPR+Partners. Based on the little snippets of their philosophy peppered throughout their website, these folks seem like they’d be really great to work with. A lot of their work is infused with a touch of humor that take a sec to sink in, as well as a little of the unorthodoxy that embodies New Orleans.

Youngs Dry Cleaning

We instantly loved the work they created for Youngs Dry Cleaning. First off the logo is outstanding, great type and colors lending a vintage feel that is right at home with a dry cleaning service. Though they are using what we would consider a predictable color (bluish teal) but they don’t wear it out, using it in all the right ways and places. The other piece of this work we really enjoy are the ads they created — super witty composition and copywriting makes this client stand out from the rest for sure. And each statement I can imagine being uttered with a thick New Orleans accent.

Image via CPR+Partners

Image via CPR+Partners

Whipsie

The other project of theirs that really stood out to us is this packaging design for Whipsie, an alcohol infused whipped cream, which sounds to us like either the greatest invention or the worst idea (because it would seriously cut into our productivity if we got our hands on it.) They’ve really managed to basically make a 21+ version of whipped cream. The packaging for an otherwise boring aerosol bottle has been made to look quite dapper, like its going to a really fancy dinner party. The subtle colors and straight-forward photography definitely gives the customer an idea of what they can do with this product. Theres also something very New Orleans about an alcohol-infused whipped cream.

Image via CPR+Partners

Image via CPR+Partners

And that concludes our tour of some of our favorite New Orleans creative studios. These shops show that the Big Easy is more than just a place for beads and beignets and has some serious creative chops.

BUTTERMILK GOES TO BOSTON – PART 2

“Buttermilk Goes to Boston” is a four part blog post about our journey to speaking at this year’s The Dieline Conference. We’ll post an update every month leading up to May when we finally head north to present “Oops, I Became a Packaging Designer” at the conference.

Click here to read Buttermilk Goes to Boston – Part 1

If any of you have ever been in situations which involve public speaking on a large scale (even on a small scale), then you may understand the wave of terror and excitement that washes over you and submerges you leading up to the event. We started riding that wave as soon as we got the phone call and the nod from Andrew and Ivan (of the Dieline).

Are Andy and I excited? Oh yeah, for sure! Are we also terrified and nervous? You bet. And even though we had a defined topic and a description of what we want to address in our presentation, we still need to come up with the details and organize our thoughts and create a presentation around it all. Not to mention the task of figuring out how to make all of that information interesting and most importantly helpful to the hundreds, if not thousands(maybe? who knows?) of faces that will be glaring back at us. *gulp*

So, we shut ourselves away in a room for a couple of hours and began to really look at our design process. How we interact with packaging design. Where we get hung up, where we thrive and how we can ultimately be better. We emerged with some solid direction, an outline and a really great idea… it involves Bruce Springsteen. And, that’s all we can share at this point.

But, do you remember that wave we talked about a few minutes ago? The wave of emotion that takes you from terrified to excited, from paralyzed to heart-racing? We are experiencing the whole gamut as we prepare for this conference. Coming up with the major outline for our presentation gave us a giddy high. We let out a big sigh of relief. Even though we are not even half way done with the work we need to do, we are feeling more and more prepared every day.

Click here to read Buttermilk Goes to Boston – Part 3

Buttermilk Goes to Boston – Part 1

“Buttermilk Goes to Boston” is a four part blog post about our journey to speaking at this year’s The Dieline Conference. We’ll post an update every month leading up to May when we finally head north to present “Oops, I Became a Packaging Designer” at the conference.

When we first saw the call for proposals for the 2014 Dieline Conference we didn’t really think too much of it. We had the amazing opportunity to speak in 2012 at the very same conference and didn’t think we had much of a chance to present again. We had a blast presenting, but also really enjoyed attending in 2013 as spectators. But something deep inside of us said “Go! Send in an idea!” So we decided to try once again to speak at our favorite conference.

Our initial ideas weren’t very good, or should I say MY initial ideas weren’t very good. I usually need a little reigning in. Then Alex had a brilliant notion of how most of us become packaging designers out of the blue without a whole lot of training or guidance. Whether its the case, like us, where your company was working with an outside agency and decided to give you one of those packaging projects, and you did a great job, so you got more and more until packaging design eats up a lot of your daily work. Or maybe you sought out a career in packaging design and were lucky enough to find that dream job. But for most of us, it just happened. I remember listening to Andrew Gibbs (founder of The Dieline) speaking to Debbie Millman on her Design Matters Podcast about how theres no “Packaging Design” Major in college. If you’re lucky enough to design packaging, you learn on the job and through real world experiences.

Brainstorming about great session topics got us thinking back on our first HOW conference in 2009. What kind of presentations were most inspiring to us? What type of session do we think attendees would find most inspiring/enlightening/useful and able to relate to? What do today’s designers need to hear?

We settled on this idea of the “accidental packaging designer” hoping attendees will be able to relate if they, like us, are struggling to find their voice, be heard, make a mark and figure it all out. We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we do love to share our story and inspire other designers to go for “it”. Whether “it” is taking on the packaging design that your company is currently outsourcing or starting your own business or presenting at the biggest packaging design conference in the USA!

So, Ivan and Andrew loved our idea. So much, in fact that even though the presentation time slots were already booked, they managed to make a spot for us (insert major ego boost here). After quite a bit of back and forth about whether our topic was more suited for a workshop or a general session, Andrew and Ivan got on the phone with us and formally invited us to present our topic as the opening session for The Dieline Conference.  

I think our exact words were “Ohmygosh… WOW….are you sure?!” Followed by a series of “yesses” and “thank yous”. If Andrew and Ivan, the experts in our field, had faith in us, then how could we not put every bit of ourselves into this presentation? And so it begins, the preparation of the presentation.

Stay tuned for:
Buttermilk Goes to Boston: Part 2
What in the world are we presenting?

Click here to read Part 2