It’s All in How it’s Packaged

Those of you who know my sculpture Jessica working on Torpedo--Xiaolu photo IMG_4933                                                know that I’ve been a bit label-obsessed for the last couple of years. Well, actually make that for the last 30 years, when I started collecting sardine and olive oils cans: IMG_3241   IMG_3242 IMG_20140407_100300849 (close up of my kitchen wall) So how incredibly great that I got to visit two label-intensive museums in a row during my recent travels to Germany. Heidelberg houses the very quirky yet tidy Museum of Packaging, IMG_0857 (I ask you: does this ad make you want to run out and buy a Frigidaire?) a private collection of ads and brand labeling, mostly from the past hundred years. All kinds of commercially packaged products are on display, from soda to cigarettes to dish detergent. The best aspect of the presentation is the social commentary that one can deduce by seeing the evolution of labeling styles of a particular product ( such as Nivea hand cream–and darn–I was so enthralled by the evolution of Nivea that I forgot to pull out my camera) since its inception to current times.

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Much, much older labeling and packaging can be seen at the Heidelberg Apothecary (and Alchemy) Museum. IMG_0809  IMG_20150403_070946157_HDR

Magnificent cabinets of tinctures, brightly and ornately painted hand blown bottles, majolica-glazed ceramics vessels to hold the various ingredients for medicines, room after room devoted to the magical, mystical art of healing. You’d start to feel better just LOOKING at these pill bottles…

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And, this may be off topic, but the Alchemy room!  Every manner of metal and glass stills, each one a sculpture in its own right, and en masse–oh, swoon! IMG_0824 IMG_0826 IMG_0835 Before closing out–I want to circle back to product labels. A wonderful visit to Seligmann Bauer’s House in the Jewish Museum in Trebic, Czech Republic had the unexpected bonus of a beautiful display of 1940’s packaging in the poignantly preserved general store of Mr. Bauer. IMG_1130  IMG_1131 IMG_1137

I would definitely buy bobbins even if i didn’t need them if they came in this box!

Is there a wee bit of irony that this post comes from someone who is known to rant against the current obsession with marketing and “branding”? Ah! But this is different!

2 thoughts on “It’s All in How it’s Packaged

  1. There are some very funny ads now, but maybe because they are so intentionally manipulative they aren’t as funny as say that refrigerator ad is. Now I think that is hysterical. Mainly I am drawn to the hand drawn quality of these older ads. The PERFECT digitized ads that we have on packaging now is, for the most part, soulless. Almost all of these brands of olive oil hanging on my wall have thrown out their beautiful old drawn designs and redesigned using digital technology. Waah!

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