Blog 02/06/2014

Responsibilities as a designer

What is the relationship between the product and its packaging? I recently attended the exhibition Wheat is Wheat is Wheat, at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco. The artist, designer, Peddy Mergui explores the boundaries of design within consumer culture.

The exhibition shows Ferrari Linguine, Prada milk cartons, Dolce and Gabana biscuits – to name a few. It’s a brilliant exhibition and I think we can safely come to the conclusion that we are greatly influenced by packaging. Particularly if you are brand loyal.

Interestingly Peddy highlights “the challenges a designer faces when tasked with promoting economic interests while remaining true to his or her own moral compass”. I think as a designer we are incredibly exposed to situations where we are ethically challenged. In fact in some cases constantly. It is one thing refusing to work for companies viewed as unethical, (we can easily rule out BP, Nestle and a few of theose big multinationals). But as designers how much responsibility do we take for the products we work on?

The following quote is from Milton Glaser, designer of the iconic I love NY logo.

“I remember reading that during the Stalin years in Russia that everything labeled veal was actually chicken . I can’t imagine what everything labeled chicken was. We can accept certain kinds of misrepresentation, such as fudging about the amount of fat in his hamburger, but once a butcher knowingly sells us spoiled meat, we go elsewhere. As a designer, do we have less responsibility to our public than a butcher?”

Food for thought?

Here are some other artists and agencies who have also experiemented with luxury branding and food and drink.

Artist and photographer Clara Hallencreutz created the The Taste Chanel exhibition, which included images of Chanel featured on fast food and ice cream.

Access Agency prove that you certainly can polish a turd. They launched McFancy, an upmarket version of McDonalds, to coincide with London Fashion Week. I know I would choose this one over a fast food burger.


Some links and information to look at if you want to read more:


Museum of Craft and Design – Wheat is Wheat is Wheat


Appetite for Design – Eat Me, by Viction:ary.


Museum of Craft and Design

Peddy Mergui

Clara Hallencreutz

Brand Packaging Inspiration Website