Time Out

For most the holiday season is a time out; a time to reflect, a time for family and friends, or simply a time to look forward. A package can sometimes be the inspiration.

I recently heard a Mountain Dew marketer speak vividly about his earliest recollection of the brand.

At the age of 7 he began playing mite hockey, and naturally the local rink had a couple vending machines filled with drinks. And just as naturally the Dew can caught his attention. Practice after practice, game after game, he would pass by the machine, and ask his dad if he could have a can. Invariably the answer was something like, no not today, its for the big kids.

Then one day, a season or two later, after he had played particularly well in a playoff game, he and his dad passed the machine. This time his dad stopped, put in some change, and out came a can of Dew. With a big smile he handed it to his son, and said today is the day for your first Dew. Today he can’t look at a can of Dew without thinking of that shared memory.

We all have packages, and dare I say brands, that bring back a flood of meaning. For me, one is Dave Brubeck’s album Time Out. I noticed that Dave Brubeck is back on the live concert circuit after his heart surgery in October, and will be celebrating his 90th birthday next Monday. Here is a review by Nate Chinen of his latest concert in the NY Times.

I was about the same age as the Pepsi guy when the album came out. My dad had just invested in a new Acoustic Research stereo. And one night he came home with Dave Brubeck’s album, slid it gently out of the sleeve, and placed on the turntable. What I heard that night was a revelation . . . unforgettable.

And though certainly not aware of the practice of design at that age, I also sensed there was something uncommonly intriguing about Neil Fujita’s album design art as well. Neil just passed away in late October at the age of 89. He had run the CBS records design group through much of the 1950s, coming after the infamous Alex Steinweiss. By the late 1950s had started his own firm.

His cover design for that album always engulfs me in a flood of memories of that time, that music, and the early moments of my design awareness.

For me it will always be a Time Out.


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.
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