Strategies & Insights

Front Panel: June/July 2014 Issue

Posted: July 21, 2014 by
Linda Casey

Illustration Now! 5

The latest in the Illustration Now! Series—Illustration Now! Vol.5—features 150 illustrators from more than 30 countries, including illustration duo Craig&Karl, reportage artist Sue Coe, Agata Nowicka, James McMullan and Syrian artist Youssef Abdelké. It includes a mix of illustration styles and personal work as well as high-profile projects for clients such as Nike, The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, Google and Time magazine.

Illustration Now! Vol.5 is offered by Taschen ( and edited by Julius Wiedemann. The Brazilian-born author studied graphic design and marketing, and was an art editor for digital and design magazines in Tokyo. His many Taschen digital and media titles include Illustration Now!, Advertising Now, Logo Design and Brand Identity Now! 


Show Report
Luxe on the Shore

Luxe Pack New York continues to break its own attendance record this year. The event attracted 3,311 visitors to Pier 92 situated in Midtown West on the Hudson River in New York. This is a 14% increase compared to 2013.

For its 12th edition, the show debuted an area for creative promotional items for beauty and beverage brands, called Luxe Promo. Airopack took home the first Luxe Pack in Green award presented in New York. The Innovation Forum showcased the newest products and technologies from exhibitors and 10 seminars drew standing-room-only crowds.

Among the seminars at Luxe Pack was a group presentation and panel discussion by Package Design. The session called, “Artful Draw: Illustrations’ Role in Helping Liquor Brands Connect with Consumers on Shelf,” was moderated by Package Design’s editor-in-chief Linda Casey with four expert panelists: Amy Calhoun Robb, Diageo, global innovation director—Smirnoff GBT; Joan Nicosia, adjunct associate professor, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York; Ivan Bell, group managing director at Stranger & Stranger; and Ron Wong, president, executive creative director at Spring Design Partners Inc.

For the second year in a row, Nicosia kicked off the session with a comprehensive, engaging and fun presentation that wowed the audience as well as fellow panelists. Her focus was on how liquor brands, from craft beers to wine and spirits, are using illustrations to get people talking and create “buzz,” especially among younger consumers. Nicosia examined how imaginative illustrations are being used to express a brand’s personality, and how this liquor package design trend started in the craft brew market.

She showed a great variety of design applications, from the use of “monsters” in package design, citing examples such as Ballistic Brewing to wrestlers—even wine that uses illustration and the transparent packaging to engage with humor.

Calhoun Robb brought some of her favorite projects from her work at Diageo, including a bottle encased in cement that’s hand decorated with graffiti art. She also brought some more commercially feasible applications with printed boxes that can be customized using twist-and-turn panels.

Bell explored how illustration can be used for narrative storytelling that enables the brand identity to be expressed quickly to shoppers and evoke emotion. Intricate illustrations can also be a quality cue, indicating the level of craft used in the package design and product manufacturing.

Wong added that the illustration can be a great tool to develop iconic caricatures for brands, such as Skinny Girl, and visual vocabulary for brands such as Hellstrøm Aquavit. He noted that well crafted type can be a form of illustration, as was done with the Empiric Gin, which also happened to be cover story for the Package Design issue that was distributed at Luxe Pack New York 2014.

At the next Luxe Pack show to be held October 27-29, 2014, at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, Package Design will be showcasing the concepts developed for our annual Makeover Challenge. To get a preview of those package designs, check out the August 2014 issue where we will unveil the four concepts being developed for Kelley Quan New York.  


Viktorija Gnatoka, global packaging analyst at Mintel, explores the trend of biobased packaging as an eco alternative. Below, she shares some of her favorite biobased packaging from around the world.

Product: Lärabar Alt
Company: Small Planet Foods
Country: USA

I consider Alt to be a standout among [the] big number of the various snack, cereal and energy bars. Its biobased packaging fits well with the product message of natural.

Larabar originally was launched in 2003 and was made by the entrepreneur Lara Merriken in her kitchen. The idea was to make a healthy snack bar with ingredients that will be easy and simple to pronounce. This fits perfectly with the simplicity and minimalism trends that we are seeing across various categories.

To further support its premium and natural product positioning, Larabar improved its packaging. Today, bars retail in a recyclable 26.5-oz.master carton, containing 15 x 1.77-oz. bars and bearing Terracycle and 100% wind energy logos.

 The carton is also USDA-certified to be 31% biobased. The USDA BioPreferred program is part of the U.S. Farm Bill and is an accreditation for products with biobased content, i.e. ingredients that come from renewable ecological resources. The USDA Certified Biobased product label lists the percentage of biobased content in each product. The film wrapper of a single bar is made from a non-GMO, plant based material from a proprietary supplier. In this case, packaging helps to reinforce the message of simplicity and purity that Larabar brand stands for.


Product: Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion
Company: P&G
Countries: Western European

P&G introduced one of the first plant-based bottles in the hair care category. The high-density polyethylene bottle replaces petroleum-based plastic with plastic derived from sugarcane—a natural and renewable resource.

According to P&G, sugarcane-derived plastic consumes more than 70% less fossil fuels and releases far fewer greenhouse gases per ton than traditional petroleum-based plastic. The package supports P&G initiatives of being a green company. However, communication on pack is vital to ensure correct packaging recycling.


Product: Cascadian Farm Organic
Company: Small Planet Foods
Country: USA

Cascadian Farm Organic Graham Crunch Cereal, a USDA organic-certified product retails in a recyclable 9.6-oz. pack featuring the USDA Certified-Biobased Product logo. The manufacturer continues the journey towards sustainability to protect the earth and its resources by using 100% recycled paperboard for the outside carton. The packaging’s inner bag is made of up to 57% plant-based material.

The box’s front panel has a call out in the upper right corner that explains what plant-based material means and why it is important. Such approach makes more sense for the consumers so they can relate to the impact they are making by purchasing this exact box of cereal.

Indeed, Mintel U.S. Food Packaging Report shows that 40% of U.S. consumers are interested in packaging that is labeled as environmentally friendly and 54% would like to be able to see packaging that can be reused for other purposes.


Product: Ecover Ecological Limescale Remover
Company: Ecover
Country: South Africa

To solve the plastic packaging problem, Ecover uses an innovative plastic called PlantPlastic in most of their home-cleaning products packaging. PlantPlastic is made from sugarcane and recycled plastic. Product packaging has a sticker on the front of the pack indicating that its 100% plant based. On the back of the pack, Ecover clearly differentiates ecological product attributes and packaging attributes by using different fonts and colors. Product-related information comes in blue on the white background, and the opposite for the packaging information. This helps to emphasize the information on the pack and show the different product attributes.  