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Effervescent packaging by Seymour Chwast
From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.
February 07, 2014

Effervescent packaging by Seymour Chwast

By: zacharysachs

I was diligently digitizing the Pushpin slide collection when I ran across this (prospective?) design for a Perrier product which, as far as I can tell, was never made. It does seem rather like a Chwast invention, the semi-archaism of “folly” as something like “delight.” It’s more buoyant and light, but similar in style to fellow Pushpinner Milton Glaser’s packaging for the Brooklyn Brewery.

What with the dots and all. Seymour puts a more personal mark on his, with the bright solid rectangles and pastel offset letters. And Chwast did beer packaging too, though the only example shown in either of his monographs is the first of these, for Erlanger (which appears in The Left-Handed Designer):

A photo of a 6-pack carton of beer bottles. One of the bottle is taken out and placed next to the 6-pack. The design of the beer carton has the name of the brand, "Erlanger" very big and at an arch. Each letter has a gradient of orange to yellow. Underneath the name is an illustration of a an old fashion couple near a forestry trail. The design of the beer bottle has the name design for the brand name on it's label. With an illustration underneath it.

 
From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

A photo of a 6-pack of beer bottle cartoon. There is only one beer bottle in the carton. The carton is mostly a grassy green color. The front has a brightly colored illustration of a small town with a beer stein styled house right in the middle of the town. Above the illustration is the brand, "Stienhauser" in big orange-yellow colored text. On the side are 4 dark blue square, it looks like a window, each square has a text.

 
From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

A photo of a 6-pack beer bottle carton. There is no beer bottle in the carton, there is one next to it. The carton is similar to the one above, the green colored background is light. The illustration in the front is a big fancy man hold a beer stein that looks like a house, next to the beer stein is a tiny man. The brand name is at the top, same front, size, and color. The side of the cartoon is the same as the one above.

 
From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

Steinhauser, I believe, is a Radeburger product. But Erlanger was made by Stroh’s, which until 2000 sold a wide range of cheap beers, much like Pabst (who, as it happens, was the company that absorbed it). I’m much more interested in his work for the house brand, with its more elaborate use of Chwast’s characteristic illustration style. And wouldn’t it be truly wonderful and astonishing graphic work to find on beer cans, let alone cheap beer cans? I don’t know how they stood when these were proposed, but Stroh’s spectrum of brands sound to me like generally pretty fizzy, bottom-of-the-keg material—Pabst, Schaefer, Schlitz, Old Milwaukee, and Lone Star (though, as a Texan, that one’s a sentimental favorite for me).

Considering that there’s hardly any difference between most of those (I dare anyone to taste-test Schaefer and Schlitz), you might think it’d be a great opportunity to bring in some real eye-popping design work and generate interest at the point-of-purchase, maybe even forgoing ads. (See also Lark cigarettes.) But probably the market tests in this field are particularly crippling — these are too “feminine,” possibly? With the (possible) exception of Brooklyn Brewery, though, I’m having trouble thinking of any particularly good, or even not-terrible beer labels. Anyone?

A mostly white small beer can. Very white background with an illustration of a stack of barley tied together with blue wings on it on a bright yellow background with a light pink border.  Underneath the barley is "Golden" in small thin black letter " Light" In big thing white letters". The name of the brand is on top of the barely, "stroh's" is thick scripted blue letters.

 
From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

A photo of a small beer can. One fourth of the can, the top, is a very light yellow plain color. In the middle, overlapping the plain color background is a drawing of an old man hold a glass of beer in a blue diamond with a golden yellow border. Underneath the old man is "Stroh's Golden Light Bavrian style Fire Brewed Beer" Each word is in a different font and font size . Each words except the word "Light" which is a golden yellow color, has a blue color scheme. The words is within a light yellow strip of background. Next to this strip on the left is a baby blue strip of color and on the right is a strip of a white background with baby blue polka-dots.

 
From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

A photo of a small beer ca. The background is a light beige. "Stroh's" is written is a bold navy blue water color texture scripted text. The brand name is in a big white diamond that is in the middle of the can. Behind the white diamond is a yellow design with " Light" is bold capped white text and the top of the yellow design. At the top and bottom of the yellow design is small drawing of a stack of barely and a old man with a beer glass.

 
From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

A photo of a small beer can. The front is mostly a sky blue background is some fluffy white clouds floating around. At the bottom is an illustration of a barley field with a farm house and trees. There is a tiny red propeller airplane in the distance of the blue cloudy sky. There is yellow propeller airplane closer to us and near the name of beer can. "Stroh's" in black scripted lettering and "Light" underneath in a small black banner in white bold lettering.

 
From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.

But this last one is my personal favorite, which effortlessly combines his style with the idea of “light,” all in a powerfully minimal design (that predicts, in a way, that one video installation by Cory Arcangel).

A photo of a small beer can. The can is sky light blue, it has white fluffy clouds scattered around the can. "LIGHT" is in big thin white letters with a navy blue outline. The word in front of a big white cloud, some of the cloud covers some parts of the letters. Underneath is the brand name, "Stroh's" in a smaller blue scripted text.

 
From Seymour Chwast Collection, Series 7 (Box 11). Color positive slide.