Archeology fascinates me and there is a new piece today in Science the AAAS journal, on the discovery of the earliest known human, a 3.2 million year old skeleton named Ardi. It caught my eye not simply because of the compelling image shown at left by Tim White. But also because it has become apparent to me that uncovering the bones of old packages, and tracing their visual lineage, is in some ways no different than the work of archeologists.
For those of you who are paying attention, and yes your numbers are growing, you know that this blog contains a decade by decade series on the history of package design in the 20th century. I will shortly post the decade of the 1950s. This has been a fascinating exercise of uncovering sources, unearthing visual records, and dusting off old references. Again a bit like archeology.
Design is all about visual evolution, one generation of designers influencing the next. The coke package, like the look of all brands, builds one step at a time, with each new package iteration influencing the direction of the next. And very few brands understand their DNA better than Coke.
Anthropologists research the links between our human past and present. Those of us observing the history of package design are doing the same.