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Iconic Packaging Design in Cinema

In listening to one of our favorite podcasts, 99 Percent Invisible, we were especially inspired by Episode 284 - “Hero Props: Graphic Design in Film & Television.” The focus of this episode celebrates graphic designers in cinema: the unsung heroes of the film industry.

The host of the show is graphic designer Annie Atkins, who specializes in graphics for film making. Her job is to design any graphic piece outlined by a period film script - telegrams, vintage cigarette packaging, love letters, books, poems, chocolate boxes, passports, and fake CIA identification cards are just some examples. Essentially, Atkins and many other graphic designers in cinema work tirelessly behind the scenes to carefully design the little details that move the story line forward.

Fascinated by this fact, it made us recall those sentimental moments in cinema when packaging has played an iconic role. Here are some of our favorite examples of packaging design that have made an impact in cinema history:

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S

Possibly one of the most iconic packaging programs in history, the Tiffany’s blue box is synonymous with the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This cinematic classic is so popular, that the company recently opened its own cafe in NYC to allow customers to channel their inner Audrey Hepburn.


WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

Kids from one to ninety-two have all dreamed of opening a chocolate bar to find a golden ticket inside. The wonder behind Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory has been etched in our minds as the ultimate fantasy - full of magic and possibility. Anyone who has seen this movie can describe the breath-holding moment when Charlie opens his Wonka bar, after realizing there is one last golden ticket remaining…


THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Wes Anderson is well-known for transporting his audience into his imagination through film. The worlds he creates are full of visual creativity, with an immaculate attention to detail. It is no surprise that the Mendl’s bakery box from The Grand Budapest Hotel has achieved iconic status - and is even designed by Annie herself.


Pretty Woman

Arms full of shopping bags, Julia Roberts delivers the perfect blow to a pretentious sales woman in Pretty Woman when she waltzes back in to the store after being turned away. This “big mistake” moment is a turning point for her character, and one that we will never forget.


LOVE, ACTUALLY

“Oh, this isn’t a bag, sir…this is SO much more than a bag,” exclaims Rowan Atkinson, as he applies painfully over-the-top gift wrap to an ill-fated present in Love, Actually. It’s a scene that grips the audience as we are reminded of the times when a complimentary service has unintended consequences.