When thinking about my year-end blog, I knew I wanted to write about the past year’s biggest trends in packaging design. But one trend stood out far and above the rest, so it feels more intuitive to focus on just the one.
This trend came about as a response to ecommerce, which is why I don’t see it exiting any time soon. And now with COVID, people are shopping online even more so than before, making this trend a lasting one, at least for the time being.
What I’m referring to is big, bold, and simple design.
Think about it – when you’re scrolling Amazon (or your favorite retailer) on your phone, you’re looking at images that are about 1”x1”. At that size, you’re not going to see small details and romance copy. And with how cluttered our world already feels in terms of advertising, clear and concise rule.
But what does this mean for designers? Does this make packaging designers more obsolete, since design is getting simpler?
Quite the contrary, in my opinion. Just because packaging design is simpler, that doesn’t mean that designing it is. In fact, simple design can sometimes be more difficult. That’s because each element needs to be cleverly chosen, and with less elements telling the story of the brand, you have to choose those elements even more wisely.
I’m going to end with a few more designs that exemplify the big, bold, and simple design phenomenon. I look forward to seeing more of this trend in 2022!
Buying Christmas gifts seems to get tougher every year. As me and my family members get older, we’re more able to buy the things we want for ourselves, and with fast shipping services, we can even get them within a few days of ordering.
That is why my new modus operandi is to gift packaged food. Not only are you gifting something that everyone needs (we all gotta eat), but it’s an opportunity to introduce your loved one to their new favorite food product.
Here are other reasons why I love gifting packaged food:
It won’t go to waste. How many weird random gifts have we all received over the years? And while any gift may be super thoughtful, it’s important for the planet, and our pocketbooks, that they actually get used. Food will always get used (unless the giftee shoves it to the back of a cabinet, of course, but that’s on them).
Your gift would help support small food businesses!
You can cater the food to your giftee’s diet for an even more personal touch. Is the person in question gluten intolerant? Tate’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. Do they have a sweet tooth, but are trying to cut back on sugar? Barnana’s Peanut Butter Dipped Banana Bites. Are they a coffee snob? Any of Queen City’s coffee beans (plus a nice grinder if they don’t have one).
You can spend as much, or as little as you’d like. If you’re wanting to spend over $200, consider a basket of food or a subscription box. If you’re wanting to spend under $15, try a box of Magic Spoon’s high protein cereal, or an adaptagenic trail mix. How’s that for gifting on a budget?!
Really nicely packaged food from small mom and pop shops usually has exquisite packaging, so your gift is gonna look good [cool sunglasses emoji].
And to round out the list, here’s my last point – it can even be holiday themed! Try gourmet marshmallows from Magical Mallow and Cacao Bliss so your giftee can make delicious (yet somewhat healthy) hot chocolate. Or Kettle Head Popcorn, because Christmas has always said “gourmet popcorn”, for some odd reason.
Before I go, here are some other gems that would make great gifts. Please note that I’m choosing shelf stable treats without temperature constraints. If you’re not afraid of shipping something frozen, Daily Harvest smoothies make an amazing gift, and it’s super healthy. But local ice cream would be even better (shout out to Revolution Ice Pops & Gelato).
For the marga-holic: Bits ‘n Pieces Main Squeeze Chile Limón Salt and Lime ‘n Pepper Dry Rub for rimming margarita glasses.
For the charcuterie buff: Elevation Meats Artisan Salumis.
For a chip fiend: Torres Iberian Ham Chips
For those with poptart nostalgia: Bobo’s Toaster Pastries
For a cocktail lover with an affinity towards sparkling beverages: Tingala Sparkling Liquor
For a major foodie: Gift Card to a Specialty Market, like Marczyk Fine Foods
This geometric graphic trend hasn’t been this popular since Harry met Sally (literally). Grid backgrounds are EVERYWHERE right now – websites, packaging design, you name it. I even use a grid in the new branding I created last November. In my opinion, this checkered renaissance was left in the wake of the aftermath of an 80’s design style’s recent revival. What is this style, you ask? 80’s babies – think: Saved by the Bell. The goofy colors and geometric shapes from our favorite 90’s classic teen show actually have a name – it’s called Memphis Style.
The Memphis Group was an Italian architecture firm, famous for its postmodern furniture, carpets, lighting, and the like. The Milan-based group formed in 1980 as a conscious objection to modernism. Their style was clearly influenced by terrazzo (which I explain in a previous blog post), with similarities of haphazard shapes. But while terrazzo was more indicative of the imperfections of nature, Memphis Style was its bizarre, ephemeral cousin; born of asymmetrical triangles, circles, and bold primary colors. Not everyone was a raving fan.
According to Brand Strategist, Bertrand Pellegrin, Memphis Style can be best described as “a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price.” Another trend researcher describes its colors as “Sesame Street”. And Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
The Memphis Group disbanded in 1987, but they clearly left their mark. Saved by the Bell is my favorite example of Memphis Style in action; Pee-wee’s playhouse is another example. I’m unsure how the grid initially played into Memphis Style, but you can see it in almost every example I’ve posted – in the windows of The Max, as tilework beneath the kooky furniture, and in the background of the Memphis graphics. It makes sense; a checkered background provides some grounding And while the various, colorful shapes pair really nicely with the lightly screened grid background, both are strong enough to stand on their own. Here are a few modern examples of a grid background in action. Enjoy!
I don’t remember the approximate date, where I was, or what website I was on when I first heard of “terrazzo”. It’s not like the “where were you when you first heard of yoga pants” question. (Answer: At my cousin Leslie’s Vegas bachelorette party, circa 2010.) But if I had to guess, terrazzo first crept into my vocabulary about 18 months ago, and I was probably on a website like CB2. They were PROBABLY selling something like terrazzo coasters. And I was like, sweet! A pattern I’ve never heard of.
The origin of terrazzo is Italian – it started as a cementitious floor and wall treatment. Tiny chips of color (such as marble, quartz, granite, and glass) were mixed with a binder, and then poured into a precast either on a floor or wall. Now, the word “terrazzo” often refers to the pattern, and not the cementitious floor and wall treatment. Little did I know, that pattern would slowly creep into every aspect of my design-fueled life over the next year and a half. And I relished in it.
It started slowly, with me noticing this multicolored, ununiform, chip-like pattern on interior design websites – tile, wallpaper, dishware, pillows, curtains… Then, it made its way into clothing. Finally, I began noticing it on labels. But on labels, it has taken on the form of a more curvy, macro cousin, that I like to call “the blobbies”.
I like the blobbies, actually. When I was younger, daydreaming about the future, I only had shows like Zenon: Girl of the 21stCentury, to tell me what it would look like. I’ve always pictured dramatic, hard lines. Example: people cutting their bangs on a diagonal and wearing their hair in such a tight ponytail that it gives you perma-headache. There was also lots of red pleather (thanks, Britney) and shiny silver metallic. Who would have ever guessed it’d be full of inviting, soft colored, organically shaped blobbies instead?
Like an alien invasion, the blobbies have also taken over jewelry!
When it comes to this latest design trend, I’ve definitely asked myself “why now”? This is all speculation, but I think it has something to do with what I mentioned before. For a lot of us 30-somethings and older, we’re finally living in “the future”, and these patterns remind us that the future isn’t as scary-looking as we once thought. When it comes to terrazzo, (which characteristics are more hard edges and chip-like than the blobbies), I think we needed this unorganized, chaotic pattern to remind us that if our lives are just that – unorganized and chaotic, they are also still beautiful.
(Is anyone else having a Saved By The Bell flashback?)
My blog isn’t a latin placeholder anymore! Time to pop the champagne.
I don’t know when the obsession started, I just know when it culminated into the idea for this blog – about two years ago, I was on Season 2 of Gossip Girl for the fourth time, diligently studying the fashion of each and every episode, when I thought “what about the fashion says 2008 and not 2017?” Other than Serena’s hobo purses, most of what they wear would still be relevant today, almost a decade after the show was filmed.
That led me to think about the 2000’s. Society has a clear picture of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, but what styles defined the 2000’s? I started reading up on it extensibly – my entire high school and college careers were in the 2000’s, so this should all come flooding back to me. I’ll explain my findings in a different post, but the excitement I had while looking up “2000’s trucker hats” was it – I must explore this obsession with trends. And blogging about it was the best solution I could think of.
In 2008, I was a Senior, enrolled in Iowa State University’s Graphic Design program. During my last semester, I was required to take a course in Graphic Design History. One of the assignments in this class was to read The Great Gatsby.
Once the entire class had read the book, we engaged in a classroom discussion on the icons in the book, and how each object had meaning. The light across the water wasn’t just a light – it was a beacon, calling out for Daisy to find her long lost lover.
We also dissected the 20’s – flapper style, and how it came to be. This was a turning point for me, in how I thought about everything. All elements that define our lives are a collage of the times – what we wear, where we live, what we eat. Also, how our interiors look, our hairstyles, how we take our coffee, where we vacation, what we’re named, how we name our kids – these “trends” are all influencers and are all brought on by influence, like scalloped potatoes – overlapping and being overlapped simultaneously, a mosh posh of influence. (We were about to eat Thanksgiving dinner when I first wrote this, hence the scalloped potatoes reference.)
Trends wouldn’t exist without Group Think, and that Group Think spreads like a disease (a happy disease, in most cases), often beginning on the coasts of the US and moving inward. And you can tell when you’re about to get infected. It might start with your favorite social media celebrity, pushing their new favorite makeup brand. Then slowly, your friends start talking about it, and before you know it, you’re ordering Glossier’s Boy Brow and penciling in your brows to get that fierce caterpillar look.
Throughout the life of this blog, I hope to explore everything related to trends (so, everything there is), not just for the sake of being trendy, but more like a grad student’s dissertation – understanding what they are, when they were prominent, how they were popular and why they became popular. And if you’re thinking, what does this have to do with designing food labels? My answer: everything. I’ll get to that at some point…
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