Harry Allen Design
BANG Marc Jacobs
Marc Jacobs, Coty Prestige
BANG Marc Jacobs
The design brief for a new Marc Jacobs men’s fragrance packaging was complex. Only the name was set, BANG, but Coty Prestige asked that the bottle design be both whimsical and manly. Harry and his team distilled the brand message to its core when they took hammer to metal.
HARRY ALLEN DESIGN
Harry Allen & Mike Boylan, Harry Allen Design
Photographer: Anthony Cotsifas
Mark Christou: To be a true icon, you must continue to challenge the convention. BANG challenges form and perception with success. However, great design goes beyond the package.
Melanie Wiesenthal: Whether you love or hate the ads, it can’t be denied that the bottle shape and engineering are impressive. Such a simple idea; it’s often the best.
Joshua Handy: I loved the story of the 60 page brief from the client being addressed by the designer smashing a piece of steel with a hammer – “Logic, say hello to Emotion!” - A striking, impactful design indeed.
Joe Marianek: It must have been hard to make a shrapnel appear both luxurious and aggressive, but this is a very elegant and competent execution. It would have been nice to see the enclosing or protective secondary package.
Marianne Klimchuk: Innovative conceptually this packaging design pushes the bounds of materials and structural design. Unique, powerful, visually arresting, physically intriguing - luxurious and yet raw, aggressive and yet sexy....what a bang!
BANG Marc Jacobs
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
The brief for this project was about 60 pages long, filled with information about the brand, Marc Jacobs himself, the competition, and the target audience. So this was really a branding project. The name was already selected, BANG, and we simply responded to all of the information supplied. Of course I am part of the formula too - I have a set of high design standards that must be met. The challenge is to develop a form that embodies the brand and satisfies all of the criteria, to find the properly nuanced solution to a very complex brief. It is not easy, but when one finds the sweet spot this type of work very satisfying.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
The design needed to be at the same time masculine and whimsical - like the Marc Jacobs brand. The BANG concept is a direct offshoot of my REALITY line - for which I borrow form from real life rather than create original form. I entertained many possible solutions, but ultimately the reality-based concept won out. I started by playing with metal sheets, hitting them with hammers and rocks. I thought the idea of "impact" or "force" might be a nice response to the name. The metal retained the form of the impact, so we we were able to translate, quite literally, the name BANG. All of the decision makers responded to the concept and the look. It is a very personal solution for a object of mass consumption. My team took one of the metal pieces that I made, entered the information into the computer, and used that geometry to make the bottle, so it looks exactly like the original piece of metal I bent.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
Our work passed through the Coty Art Department, Marketing Department and upper management, before it went to Marc Jacobs. It had many filters, and needed to satisfy many people, but the design was not changed, just approved as it moved up and down the corporate ladder. I did not interact with Marc Jacobs himself while I was designing the bottle, but he saw all of my work and was the ultimate creative approval. Believe it or not, the fragrance itself did not figure into the bottle design at all - it was being developed simultaneously to the bottle. At all times I kept the end consumer in mind. Identified by the marketing team as "A 25 something man, youthful in spirit, casually relaxed, distinctively cool, unpredictable, full of humor, sexy, scruffy, intelligent spark in his eyes, full of flair and allure." I just wanted to make a cool object that sat comfortably on a young man's dresser - slightly ambiguous, masculine, and not overly-designed. I rarely start with manufacturing concerns. I knew the liquid needed to be contained in glass, and I had a basic knowledge that the idea was manufacturable, but the engineering team brought the bottle to life.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
I wish I had some long list of all of the rigor that went into this specific project. It surely looks like it took quite a bit of effort, but in a way my studio had been training for years to produce this bottle. I have a long history in the cosmetics industry and this was not my first fragrance project, so I had some knowledge of what goes into fragrance packaging. Aside from the brief there was very little research to be done. The brief was extensive and the client was not looking to innovate. All they wanted was an iconic bottle to embody Marc Jacobs' new foray into men's fragrance. This setup allowed me great artistic freedom, but in the end the aesthetic is not really new for me either. Many are familiar with my REALITY products for Areaware, and I look at this as an extension of that aesthetic. The translation from my sketches (the banged metal pieces) to the engineering went pretty smoothy too. Even though the bottle is a very complex, natural form, my team was able to translate the geometry into the computer by hand. It did not take any special software or hardware to bring it to life - just a good caliper and Solidworks.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
Unfortunately it is hard to justify fragrance packaging from the standpoint of "social value". The BANG bottle is made from recyclable aluminum and the glass, but I doubt many people will people pull it apart and recycle it. For years I have been suggesting to clients that they produce re-fillable cosmetics packaging, or use more environmentally-friendly materials, but this project did not call for innovation in that way. The project was brought to me in the depth of the recession, so I was just happy to be working, and I hoped a successful design would keep others employed also. This project is simply a gladdener, a beautiful consumable. Fragrance bottles are all about fashion, consumption, and heavy packaging. I have a hard time justifying it on any other level, but I am proud of the fact that I have brought my unique reality-based sensibility to a very mass-produced product.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?