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These Products Are Proof of 2021’s Weird and Wacky Packaging Trends

The year's last Happy Hour is an encapsulation of where branding might be heading

Over the past few years, what’s unusual has become the norm in packaging design for consumer goods. Custom fonts, characters, illustrations, and even extended universes have become de rigueur for brands who want to create products that people can get excited about stocking up on. As 2021 zips up, we’ve selected a handful of recent designs that are representative of beverage design’s shift towards stylized wackiness.

Studio Unbound: Cool Beans

Cool Beans, UK-based Studio Unbound’s iced coffee brand concept, is inspired by late 1980s and early 1990s hip hop—think Saved by The Bell meets Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”The squat, black matte bottles feature bright contrast labels in yellow, red and violet, which act as a backdrop for monochrome cartoon characters (all beans) that bump up against the rich curvilinear type. The double espresso bottle has two beans high fiving. Pumpkin spice latte features a bean spinning a pumpkin on his finger, like he’s in Space Jam. And on chocolate mocha, there’s a bean leaning on his boombox/chocolate bar. It’s the kind of thing that’s just weird enough to be dreamed up by an agency for its own amusement instead of a client’s needs.

Requena Office: Orbita Coffee

The dynamic design behind Barcelona online coffee roastery Orbita has a few sources of inspiration. One is the founder, Claudia Sans, who says the visual look of the brand draws on her own “always changing and adapting” personality. Second is the business concept itself, which features a rotating selection of beans. Designer Andrés Requena of Requena Office says that the graphic design also directly references the name of the brand, which acts as a “visual trigger” that’s equal parts abstract and concrete. With this data point and a few others like Touchy Coffee, it’s fair to say that serious coffee no longer requires serious packaging.

Alli Schaper and Brian Friedman: SuperMush

SuperMush, a line of functional mushroom sprays, is a private label offering from Multiverse, a “curated online marketplace for the highest quality indie products that are made with natural fungi to help you approach true immortality.” No doubt founders Alli Schaper and Brian Friedman spotted a gap in the market for spray, a newly trendy form factor, while curating all those mushroomy goods. The “1970s inspired” labels feature footed fungi with patterns that reference their functions (“Energy” has lighting bolts, “Chill” features crescents, “Immunity,” has presumably benign dots.) What will they atomize next? 

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