07 Feb

Effervescent packaging by Seymour Chwast

From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

I was diligently digitizing the Pushpin slide collection when I ran across this (prospective?) design for a Perrier product which, as far as I can tell, was never made. It does seem rather like a Chwast invention, the semi-archaism of “folly” as something like “delight.” It’s more buoyant and light, but similar in style to fellow Pushpinner Milton Glaser’s packaging for the Brooklyn Brewery.

What with the dots and all. Seymour puts a more personal mark on his, with the bright solid rectangles and pastel offset letters. And Chwast did beer packaging too, though the only example shown in either of his monographs is the first of these, for Erlanger (which appears in The Left-Handed Designer):

From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

Steinhauser, I believe, is a Radeburger product. But Erlanger was made by Stroh’s, which until 2000 sold a wide range of cheap beers, much like Pabst (who, as it happens, was the company that absorbed it). I’m much more interested in his work for the house brand, with its more elaborate use of Chwast’s characteristic illustration style. And wouldn’t it be truly wonderful and astonishing graphic work to find on beer cans, let alone cheap beer cans? I don’t know how they stood when these were proposed, but Stroh’s spectrum of brands sound to me like generally pretty fizzy, bottom-of-the-keg material—Pabst, Schaefer, Schlitz, Old Milwaukee, and Lone Star (though, as a Texan, that one’s a sentimental favorite for me).

Considering that there’s hardly any difference between most of those (I dare anyone to taste-test Schaefer and Schlitz), you might think it’d be a great opportunity to bring in some real eye-popping design work and generate interest at the point-of-purchase, maybe even forgoing ads. (See also Lark cigarettes.) But probably the market tests in this field are particularly crippling — these are too “feminine,” possibly? With the (possible) exception of Brooklyn Brewery, though, I’m having trouble thinking of any particularly good, or even not-terrible beer labels. Anyone?

From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

But this last one is my personal favorite, which effortlessly combines his style with the idea of “light,” all in a powerfully minimal design (that predicts, in a way, that one video installation by Cory Arcangel).

From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

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07 February 2012
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Seymour Chwast
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