The $700,000 box of Brillo

BrilloAs those of you who follow this blog know, Andy and I met in the changing room of Paul Stuart.

It was about 15 or 20 years after he created the Brillo soap pad box that sold yesterday at a Phillips auction in New York. We didn’t discuss it at the time.

Lost in all of the commentary and the reports of the sale yesterday is the fact that the Brillo box, used by Andy as the inspiration for his artwork, was designed in 1961 by James Harvey, at the New York design firm of Stuart and Gunn. Harvey was a commercial artist and abstract expressionist painter who studied at The Art Institute of Chicago. Sadly, he died in 1965 at the young age of 36. But imagine the thrill it must have been for him to see his work become one of the foundations of Warhol’s fame.

It is interesting to note that when this work was created in 1964, Brillo had sales of about $15 million and was losing share rapidly to S.O.S.

Wonder if Andy knew that Brillo is the Latin word for bright.


Golec, Michael. 2008. The Brillo Box Archive, Aesthetics, Design, and Art. Dartmouth College Press

General Foods Corp v. Federal Trade Commission. 1967. U.S. Court of Appeals Third Circuit


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
This entry was posted in Design Criticism, Design Practice, Packages Yesterday and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s