Hermes is one of those “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” brands. Its silk scarves are coveted and collected as genuine works of art, the ultimate in elegance, refinement, and taste. Artists around the world are commissioned to produce unique designs for Hermes scarves. Each pattern is painstakingly engraved by Hermes artisans who typically take 750 hours to achieve Hermes’ nuanced colors and detailed design. Requiring an average of 27 ink colors, the image is silk-screened onto fine silk cloth. Although more than 2,000 Hermes scarf designs now exist, with 20 new designs issued each year, the look, classic and opulent, is decidedly Hermes. Dramatic colors and bold designs are the signature of the Hermes brand. Saying anything more would be redundant. This explains why the catalog and video ad for Hermes’ spring 2014 Soie Folle collection is without voiceover or marketing text.
This commercial for Pedigree dog food is beautiful for its pure simplicity. Shot at 1000 frames per second using a Phantom camera, the slow-motion video captures every movement and feature of each dog, from the twitch of the ears, the attentive eyes, the loose tongue, the tensed muscles and flying fur as the dog leaps for the Pedigree treat. The plain studio backdrop and lighting eliminate superfluous environmental distractions, making the dogs the sole point of focus. Viewers can’t help but marvel at what expressive and unique creatures dogs are. TBWA/Toronto made this commercial for Pedigree Petfood Canada, with film direction by Bob Purman of Imported Artists Film Company and sound by Joey Serlin at Vapor Music.
Editor’s note: Packaging design presents its own unique set of challenges to graphic designers that differ from other kinds of print design. Here, we asked Brad Murdoch from Process, a premium packaging manufacturer based in Salt Lake City, to help us identify some common mistakes. Process handles custom packaging and fabrication through its network of overseas manufacturing facilities.
Designing a book cover is an exercise in balance. The image or graphic has to distill the story without giving away the plot. It has to create “shelf presence” to entice shoppers to pick up the book for a closer look. It has to avoid false advertising, but can’t be boring, even if the content is. It should give shoppers a sense of the genre – suspense, sci-fi, romance, self-help, current events – but imply that the author has a unique and fascinating take on the subject. While it is true that “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” it is also true that you can design a cover that makes shoppers want to buy the book. This video from Random House features interviews with book designers from its publishing groups (Random House, Knopf Doubleday and Crown) providing insights into the complex process of creating compelling, eye-catching and meaningful book cover jackets.
As renowned for its creative branding as it is for its premium vodka, Absolut continually tops itself with fantastic new visual expressions. In this case, the Swedish vodka-maker, owned by French company, Pernod Ricard, teamed with Swedish ad agency, Family Business, to give new meaning to the term “limited edition.” The idea was not just to make each Absolut bottle seem unique, but to actually be unique. To do that, Absolut had to reconfigure its bottling production line to recreate artwork with splash guns, 38 colors, and 51 patterns. A complex computerized algorithms program orchestrated these elements in a randomized fashion so that no two bottles were decorated alike. In fact, Absolut estimates that it would take 94 quintrillion bottles before two identical designs resulted. The company is not producing that many, but it did individually number each of the four million bottles in its limited edition line, which it appropriately named “Absolut Unique.”
Herself Magazine is a bi-annual, all-illustrated fashion publication produced in the UK. Virtually every image shows celebrity “models” (living, dead and animated) wearing high fashion apparel and jewelry by the likes of Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Boucheron and Faberge. The models’ poses and background settings all look like they were copied from high-end fashion photographs – and maybe they were. Every illustration is drawn by a person named Lula, who identifies herself as editor in chief and creative director, with art direction by Annual. No other staff credits are given.
A very text-light publication, Herself includes fictitious Q-A interviews between Herself and stars including Marilyn Monroe, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, and Susan Sontag. Another article in Issue 2 features Disney fairy tale princesses, including Pocahontas, Cinderella, Belle, and Snow White, modeling contemporary fashions. As concepts go, Herself is intriguing, unique, and surreal.
A logo is widely considered the most important visual expression of retail brands, corporations and institutions. The symbol is a graphic “stand-in” for the entity, communicating its personality and values through a unique and memorable combination of colors, shapes and typography. The latest episode of PBS’s Off Book web series explores “The Art of Logo Design,” with designers Stephen Heller, Sagi Haviv of Chermayeff & Geismar, Kelli Anderson, and Gerard Huerta commenting on the role of logos today.
Sydney-based design agency, The Creative Method, says “give us a great story and we’ll give you a great brand.” So when Alternative Organic Wine asked them to design the packaging for a premium limited edition of its organic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, they focused on the product’s naturalness and not on the traditional way that luxury wines are presented. Creative Method explains that the “concept shows a vine, from the leaves to the bark to the wine.” Every aspect of the packaging was natural, from the outer wrapping paper with the grape leaf pattern printed using organic inks, to the laser-cut balsa wood label, to the string and the wax seal used to affix the label. Just by looking at the packaging, it communicates unique and organic.
In the U.S., July 4th is a national holiday commemorating the day in 1776 when the tiny 13 American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain, instigating a revolutionary war that lasted eight long years. From a graphic standpoint, the American flag is unique because change is built into it. Each time a state joined the Union, it got its own star on the flag. The 50th and most recent star was added in 1959 when Hawaii won statehood. The flag’s appearance has remained constant since then. This video, produced by Kit Hinrichs, presents a chronology of when states entered the Union, how that changed the look of the flag, and which Presidents served under each version of the flag. Yes, we did run this video last Fourth of July, but we thought the John Philip Sousa’s tune “Stars and Stripes Forever” would be an invigorating way to celebrate the holiday. By the way, Sousa who was born in Washington D.C. is a classic American “melting pot” story. His father was born in Spain of Portuguese parents and his mother was born in Bavaria. Happy Fourth, enjoy the hot dogs and watermelon but don’t light fireworks if you live in a fire zone.
The opening of a new location in Osaka, Japan, was occasion for luxury retailer Louis Vuitton to ask Italian design studio Happycentro to produce an appropriately elegant invitation card.The result was a printing and folding tour de force involving offset printing, transparent, silver mat, pearl and rainbow foils, dry embossing, silkscreen and die-cuts. As if that wasn’t complicated enough, the square sheet was precisely folded by hand origami-style 34 ways. One has to believe that the designer Federico Galvani has a fiendishly clever mind to devise something that tested the skills of printers and origami artists alike, but the team pulled it off and the result is lovely and unique.
Morrisons, one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK, recently unveiled its rebranded entry-level “value” line, now bearing the name “M Savers.” The work was done by brand design agency Coley Porter Bell as part of a strategic assessment aimed at transforming Morrisons’ own label into a more coherent brand. With some 17,000 products and their variants in Morrisons’ own brand, positioning different tiers and categories of products was a daunting task.
Morrisons’ entry-level value line presented its own unique challenges. Stephen Bell, creative director at Coley Porter Bell, said that the term “value” had a negative meaning to some consumers. “Value ranges tend to be somewhat utilitarian, using template designs and basic corporate colors. Research shows that consumers are often ashamed to be seen with them. But with the economy stalled for the foreseeable future, value ranges will be competing on more than just price. We wondered why shouldn’t entry-level products have some charm and engagement?”
Chicago-based commercial photographer Francois Robert has a unique way of seeing things that most of us don’t see. About 20 years ago, Francois and his Swiss designer brother, Jean, made us aware of anthropomorphic features in inanimate objects such as padlocks, mops, door knockers and light switches, and photographed these expressive faces and presented them in the book, “Face to Face.”
When you consider standard car ads, you can pretty much imagine the scenario – beautiful young couple driving over curvy scenic roads or attracting envious stares from suburban neighbors as the car pulls into the driveway. So it is refreshing to see how Volkswagen Phaeton has elevated its ads to fine art in order to convey the handmade quality of the luxury sedan. In India, DDB Mudra Group in Mumbai suggested the artisan’s pride of craftsmanship and attention to intricate details through the use of a traditional Indian art form. The way the Phaeton is integrated into the art is both surprising and memorable. More importantly, this isn’t a “foreign” ad jarringly adapted to an Indian audience. It speaks directly to India’s rich aesthetic heritage.