Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Judging salt by it's box...

Write up courtesy of Kurt

I hope I'm not the only one out there sensitive to package design. It doesn't influence all of my buying decisions (I've got a friend who only stocks her fridge and pantry with 'pretty' things) but it certainly plays a part. I have a lot of open shelving in the kitchen and what I see there is very important to me.

Case in point: I still have my Windsor Salt Box circa 2005 which I now refill with another company's salt since they 'updated' the design in 2006. It's getting a little ragged, but gives me so much more pleasure than the graphic train-wreck it has become. Chris Yaneff designed the box in 1966 and it was a Canadian package icon until it got messed with by the company. The current version features a floating board of chopped vegetables, script fonts, and spheres instead of the signature colour dots. It reeks of design-by-committee executed by the summer intern familiar with Photoshop.

I did the same thing when the French earplugs 'Boules Quies' replaced their apothecary style graphic with a ridiculous photo of a woman sleeping. My old box stays in the nightstand, but still gets refilled with their product (can't beat a French plug).

Am I turning into a curmudgeon at an early age?

Am I the only one who cares about this stuff?

Validate me - what will you buy because of the box it's in?


  1. I fill an old cinnamon tin that I pilfered from my mother's pantry, because it reminds me of baking when I was younger.

    And, the loss of a touchstone product logo indeed seems such a shame! I know exactly what you mean. It seems particularly common in Canada--revamping something to make it look more "dynamic". I suppose it does function from a business angle, wooing the people who wheel their shopping carts up and down each aisle seeking bargains, coupon-clipped items, and the noisiest product on the shelf probably wins.

    But...ugh...why why why?

  2. I once went through a spell where I bought tons of different types of chocolate because the packaging was too sexy to resist. 3 or 4 bars at a time, some with chili peppers, another with pork rinds, totally unreasonable but oh so pretty!

  3. ... I too have a vintage cinnamon tin (and nutmeg and cloves). I refill it not out of nostalgia but because it is a superior design. Does anyone make a spice tin that allows you to pour, sprinkle, and level off a measuring spoon in the same lid anymore?

    Not that I know of.

    Pork rind chocolate is something else I just can't seem to find, either. J, you gotta be kidding!

    As I designer, I disagree that you have to be the loudest to win. If a company invests in design, they may get my dollar, but I like to think that they also expose a larger public to good design. An unconscious education takes place, and the public starts to select, expect, and demand good design.

    Wait a minute - I'm thinking of Europe. Sorry.

  4. Precisely...it's one of those facts about Canada that I wish wasn't true...but, the average (average! not every!) Canadian falls for things like sloping letters that make the telephone company look "faster", crackers that seem healthy because there's a sprig of grain in the logo, and steak houses whose TV commercials feature mooseheads swapping banter from their rack on the wall. I wish we were more design-oriented/ design-appreciative as a nation...but alas...