Cool packaging: Nobó ice cream
In this column over the past two weeks, I’ve been giving food packaging a hard time. From the unnecessary over-packaging of ready-peeled oranges to the imaginary farms adorning Tesco’s new range, food packaging is an area of the industry that we need to keep a vigilant eye on.
But food packaging and branding isn’t always the enemy. When well designed, it can bring an added layer of pleasure. Beauty is often in the eye of the beholder, of course, but this week I’ve laid out a list of what I consider to be some of the most aesthetically palatable food products in the country.
It’s by no means extensive, and I’m not taking into account the wonderful world of menu design. What makes this list more than just a catalog of pretty things is that the packaging is wrapped around food and drink of delectable substance.
I love the simplistic softness of Ditty’s Oatcakes packaging, but even more lovely are this Derry-based bakery’s beautiful shortbread and biscuit tins, which are very practically shaped in a strong tube that protects the precious biccies inside.
The products of Glenilen Farm in Drimoleague, Co Cork, boast similarly evocative branding and packaging, designed for Valerie and Alan Kingston by Oisin Hurst at The Brand Union. It conjures up the romantic idea of a family farm, perfectly encapsulated by (my particular favourite) their handmade country butter, wrapped in greaseproof paper and tied in twine. It might sound twee but it’s a pure pleasure to put in your shopping basket.
The distinctive style of Pony Ltd, a London-based graphic design studio run by Dubliner (and longtime Panti collaborator) Niall Sweeney and Nigel Trusell, is put to attention-seeking use on the packaging of Sheridan’s Cheesemongers’ jams and crackers. The design duo’s idiosyncratic patterns are used to great effect by Michelle Darmody at The Cake Café and Slice on this Dublin café family’s cookbooks, preserves, sprinkles and homewares.
Kilkenny-based trout farmers Goatsbridge Trout worked with Slater Design on the repackaging of its smoked trout and trout caviar. The silver and blue lettering of the trout caviar in particular evokes the natural beauty of reflective fish scales. Slater Design is also the design company behind the identities for Jo’Burger and Northern Irish linen apron makers Enrich & Endure.
Mic’s Chilli engaged the talents of prolific Dublin-based illustrator Steve Simpson to adorn its range of hot sauces. The characters of the Inferno Sauce range evoke the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos and its associated imagery.
Ní Cho is a burgeoning chocolate business based in Belfast and features some stunning packaging. Run by a member of the Cork chocolate family O’Connaill’s, the abstract artwork on Ní Cho bars is inspired by the flavours of the handmade chocolates inside. You’ll catch a glimpse of the aesthetic on the Ní Cho website, and can see it (and taste it) IRL at St George’s Market in Belfast on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday .
Another sweet treat noticed for its packaging is the dairy-free Nobó ice cream. The 2014 Irish Design Institute declared that Nobó’s packaging, designed by John Nolan, was the best in food of that year. I like how clean and sparse the design is, because it reflects the purity of this exemplary frozen product.
Someone else winning awards for food identity design is WorkGroup, formerly known as Conor & David. This design studio has worked on a number of innovative food projects, and my favourite example of its work is the 3FE logo, which is designed to work upside-down. Why would this be important? Well, when takeaway coffee cups are stored on top of espresso machines, they’re stored upside down. Conor and David made sure the 3FE logo would work whatever way the coffee cup was facing.
Coffee is an area rich in beautiful packaging, as the size of bags and boxes are well suited to a bit of creative flair. I love the simple identity of Dublin-based roasters Cloud Picker, designed by co-founding director Frank Kavanagh. Kavanagh worked as a graphic designer before launching the micro-roastery with his partner Peter Sztal in 2013, and he made use of a little, fluffy cloud in creating a warm identity for their micro-roastery.
You can’t talk about Irish food and branding identity without bigging up A Killer Sandwich. The brainchild of the creative brand developer duo Mr and Mrs Stevens, this sandwich project popped up weekly in different locations around Dublin city, announced via Twitter (@akillersandwich).
Mr and Mrs Stevens, otherwise known as Siobhan O’Donovan and Conor Stevens, packaged their sandwich in simple greaseproof paper encased in a slip of brown paper embossed with their logo. A simple presentation of something delicious, wrapped up in a very clever idea.”