Sunday September 2, 2007


I was listening to Jon Hicks’ “How To Be A Creative Sponge” presentation from @media2007 (which was fun, entertaining and recommended listening) several weeks ago, and it got me thinking of some of the ways I try to stay fresh and sharp creatively. It’s been said many times before, but the real killer of design inspiration is sitting in front of a computer when you’re struggling creatively. No matter what awesome stuff you’re browsing, the only way I’ve found to get out — and stay out — of the creative rut is to get away from the CrackBook Pro.

I love package design. It’s one of those things I pay attention to everywhere I go. I like to discover creative uses of color, typography, photography and texture that really accentuate products. And when I’m feeling uninspired, uncreative or unmotivated, I like to head out to a store like Target, World Market or even just the mall. All of these places sell such a diverse range of products, each with their own special packaging solutions.

High-end luxury products are the most fun to look at since they really have to “dress to impress” a discerning and increasingly design-savvy consumer. And I’ll admit it: I’ve bought a number of small things I’ll never use just because they have such interesting packaging. These things sit on my desk and give me something to think about when I look up from my computer screen with that “shoot me now” look on my face.

One of the coolest finds I made lately was from a company called Pangea. They make a variety of “ecocentric bodycare” products, but it was their bar soap in particular that caught my attention. It’s made from what looks like recycled egg carton materials, so it immediately appealed to my eco-friendly tendencies. It’s also designed in a variety of natural colors with nice typography and — dare I say — a fetching grid? But it was the simplicity that struck me most. It’s really nothing more than a greyish clamshell box with a cardboard band around it (to keep it closed). It’s the bare minimum required to actually contain and present the product. And, unlike other soap products, there is actually a hole cut out of the box so that it’s easy to smell the fragrance. Smart.

Pangea Bar Soap

But the best part about this purchase (aside from the awesome smell) is what the girl at the checkout counter told us when she rang it up. Apparently the clamshell box has seeds embedded in it and completely dissolves in water. So instead of throwing it away, or even recycling it, the box can be replanted in a pot or a garden and produce various herbs. How cool is that?


Wade Winningham » 5131 days ago #

My girlfriend is an art director specializing in packaging and she was impressed by the Pangea stuff too. Her idol is Margo Chase, and I’m sure you’ve come across a few of her designs, too.

Jay » 5131 days ago #

While completely different in style, there was an article in PingMag recently about Japanese packing which was pretty awesome.

Matt Donovan » 5131 days ago #

Would be cooler if the seeds grew into more Pangea soaps. I’m just sayin…

Jay » 5130 days ago #

Turns out I can’t spell ‘packaging’ :)

Lisa Bettany » 5110 days ago #

apologies for not directly commenting on your post, but just wanted to tell you what an uber l33t site you have. i am currently redesigning ma blaag so i’m looking for inspiration. and found it here! yay!

PS. i have a weakness for code, robots, and web 2-point-oh social nets. go twitter go. lastfm is also wikkid. & Tegan and Sara basically live next door to me. high five!

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