It’s getting on for a year since my last design blog and it has been a very busy, exciting and extremely creative 12 months here at Liz Earle!
You may remember that the last time I blogged it was about Christmas….well, I’ve a slight case of ‘deja vu’ because as I write these words I’m on a photo shoot for our 2010 Christmas gift guide…and it’s looking amazing! I can’t give the game away just yet but never fear I’ll be writing a Christmas blog very soon…as it is only about 15 weeks to the big day (scary I know!).
But I digress….the subject of my blog today is our new haircare range…how we approached the pack design, what inspired us and how we shot the haircare cover story for the autumn & winter newsletter.
The design work started well over a year ago…that was the first time I got my hands on the shampoo and three conditioners that our hard-working technical team had been working on for over six years. With this level of attention to detail in the formulations, I was determined to do the team proud when it came to the pack design.
As with all packaging design…not only does the pack need to function well, it needs to look great too and to my mind it also should convey the ‘ethos’ and promise of what’s inside it…so this is where we began. We used the products in the shower over a period of weeks in many different bottles, pumps and jars before settling on the final tube…checking that the pack was easy to use, didn’t clog up or dispense too much…even taking a prototype pack on holiday to check it survived the rigors of airport baggage handling and didn’t leak in my suitcase! Once the pack was chosen it was onto the ‘look and feel’….and the design challenge of how to represent a botanical haircare range without showing hair?
This is where brainstorm sessions are crucial to any design project…we get together as a team and bounce lots of ideas around…thinking around the problem until we hit on a number of solutions. These are then worked up to the next stage and gradually whittled down and down until we reach the final design you see on your bathroom shelf. Two images stuck in my memory from our initial design mood boards…a fantastic photograph of a girl shot from behind with her long, glossy, healthy hair literally ‘flowing’ down her back…and a strong, green, lush and striking shot of botanical leaves (pictured left) by renowned London-based photographer Gareth Sambidge. And this was where the spark of inspiration came…
The graphic illustration across the front of the haircare packs represents ‘botanical hair’ shown as a luscious green, leafy stripe…mimicking a cross section through a head of healthy hair (in fact if you look really closely you’ll see that not all the lines are dead straight some are ‘swinging’ gently as hair would do as you walk), whilst at the same time looking like a succulent leafy plant that you could run your fingers through. Then because we wanted to represent the fact that our hair shined with health after using the shampoo and conditioners…we made the packs shiny too! This is a real departure for us as our skincare packs are all matt finish…the gloss not only looks great, but also has a very practical application as it helps to differentiate haircare from a ‘touch’ point of view from our other tubes when you’re in the shower!
The packs completed and the launch date fast approaching… it was then on to designing the launch newsletter. The newsletter cover choice however was easy and neatly completes the design circle for me – we went to photographer Gareth Sambidge…whose image helped inspire us originally…and worked with him to shoot a real botanical version of our graphic botanical illustration.
Rewind…to a flaming hot day in June 2010 and a day at Gareth’s studio in a quiet London mews. Carefully choosing plants with the right leaf structure and colour mix to represent the ‘hair’ illustration, we set about cutting selected leaves…working quickly as both sweltering June heat and studio lights seemed intent on drying the leaves out! Gareth skillfully shone varying degrees of light through the leaf structure to obtain the imagery you’ll no doubt recognise from our newsletter cover…the result, I hope, is a true, real-life botanical head of beautiful hair and one that hopefully answers my original design brief of how to represent botanical haircare without showing hair.