The idea behind this project is rather simple and has both a documental and comedic intent. What I did was research some exquisite example of package design from old Italian brands targeting a rather conservative and elderly audience and pretend they are releasing some custom designed sneakers. This is a 100% fictional project. The shoes are just digital mash ups of existing sneakers. They have not and will not be manufactured. If you are wondering, two of the brands that are featured contacted me after I first published this project. Interestingly one was very happy and sent me a big box with their products which I now buy regurlarly. The other one actually had their lawyers send me a letter, but we are all good now.
If you were born in the mid 80’s or earlier and you are Italian, then you remember Superpila. During my research I managed to find some Superpila batteries, catalogs, promotional material, and gadgets (all thanks to my friend Laura Camorani). Boy did this brand have a strong bold minimalist identity coming forth! No wonder it worked its way inside all of our parents and grandparents homes. Today the brand no longer exists and the trademark was bought by Procter&Gamble.
Cedrata Tassoni is a citrus flavored soft drink still available in most supermarkets and bars. It’s been around since 1956 and they redesigned all their traditional packagings just a couple of years ago. The new design really works well and respects the spirit of the old one but still…we lost the masterpiece in the picture (luckily they still haven’t changed the texturized bottle). My sneaker design is a homage to the packaging of my childhod. It also has some Tassoni inside the sole.
Though Floid ‘the Genuine’ used to be a very popular aftershave among Italians a few dacades ago and although it was even produced in Italy for some time, the product is actually Spanish. Recently its popularity has actually re-vamped among young men who get their beard cut and groomed professionally. You can even find it in supermarkets. Given this specific target of youngsters I decided for a very unconventional model featuring a pump that should find its storage place inside the up folded cuffs of your pants.
Proraso is another shaving product with a very long history. It was founded in 1908 in Florence. The incredibly iconic packagings have always been very conservative. However there has been a constant yet subtle evolution both due to advancements in packaging technology and to restyling of the graphic design. Pictures of other packagings and ads on the corporate website!
Café Paulista is a product of Lavazza, a 120 year old Italian company with an excellent reputation worldwide. Paulista made its debut in 1960, with a branding and advertising campaign curated by, none other than, Armando Testa. There is an incredibly strong sense of brand around this product. Café Paulista tin cans are actually a collectors item and this particular brand sure didn’t need me as an ambassador to underline the exquisite quality of its package design. But then again, how could I resist the temptation of drawing a shoe with a little poncho?
PIP smokers licorice can still be found today at your local tobacconist (not too common though). I felt this fictional co-branded sneaker just needed to be based on a Nike Uptempo, the one that spells a big “AIR” on its side. So I saved my imagination for other sneaker designs. I think this one kills it.
La Pasticca del Re Sole is also an Italian licorice candy. Quite common also abroad I believe. Just to say how much this product is relevant in the history of package design: this candy was invented in 1918 by cav. Arturo Gazzoni and marketed as cough medicine. He was the same genius entrepreneur behind the invention of Idrolitina. It was to box his own products that in 1924 he patented a packaging machine and established a facility in his city, Bologna, which is also my own by the way. To this day Bologna is home to one of the world’s most important districts for the production of packaging machines.
Giovanni Battista Ambrosoli must have been a man ahead of his times. He founded his company in 1923 but initially he was just a honey producer. It was in 1930 that he first released Caramella al miele Ambrosoli. Not only did he have the intuition of developing this candy but he also understood the potential of good packaging and TV ads.
Felce Azzurra detergents and cosmetics can probably be found to this day in every grandmother’s home in Italy. The Paglieri company was founded near Turin in 1876 while their Felce Azzurra brand appears for the first time in 1923. Important advertisers such as Gino Boccasile were hired by the company from the 1940’s on. This bottle, a real design masterpiece in my opinion doesn’t appear in ads before 1974. Unfortunately I have not been able to discover who designed it.
While the previous, Felce Azzurra, has always targeted a female audience, Pino Silvestre, meaning Scots Pine (clearly the manliest scent on earth), has been the hygiene and perfume brand of choice for at least three generations of men with a “traditional sense of manliness”. It’s been around since the 50’s and there is no doubt its pine cone-shaped containers were key to its success along with a TV commercial with wild horses running to a triumphant music (I suggest a view). My sneaker design is admittedly based on a Nike Roshe Run.
Panforte is one of those things you give for granted. It’s a seasonal sweet product that magically appears in Italian homes during Christmas time. In my family I think we used to always have one at Christmas but I don’t recall ever having tasted it or even seing it unpacked. Then one Christmas you realize this package in the picture is no longer in use and you start to miss it. And yes, the sneaker I designed has icing sugar on top.
It wasn’t until very recently that I realized how the vast majority of Italian brands producing cake baking products seem to be targeted towards a market of adorable 90 year old ladies. I thought it was strange at first because I know plenty of Italians in their 20’s and 30’s who enjoy preparing cakes. However I realized that cake expertise is something we tend to attribute to older women. When you stop in front of the yeast shelf at the supermarket the subconscious driver that leads to the purchase must be “what would grandma buy?”. The Paneangeli brand, now owned by Cameo, dates back to 1932 and has an impressive range of products, all with the same style of package.
My grandma’s brand of choice…maybe together with Cielo Alto hair spray. The Splend’Or brand is owned by Mirato but they state very little about it on their website. It should be around since the 60’s. I promise I will udate this caption if I manage to find more.
Yes this one is off the topic. Algasiv denture adhesives (Seabond in other countries) is not an Italian product and does not have a particularly well designed packaging, however I did not want to give up on the chance to design a sneaker with teeth and gums.
And to end, Cynar, which is famous not only in Italy. The artichoke based digestive liquor was patented in 1952 by Angelo Dalle Molle. A TV commercial with Ernesto Calindri drinking the product in the middle of a traffic jam boosted the popularity of the product during the 60’s. The catch phrase is one that most Italians still remember. Probably due to the, somehow awkward image of the artichoke it is not a popular drink among younger people.