Design is everywhere you look. It’s all the things that characterise our daily life: a door, a chair, a mobile phone, a coffee cup, a book cover, a film, a lifestyle magazine article. It’s the foundation of our entire society.
In the 1970s, German designer Dieter Rams formulated ten principles for “good design”. The list’s connecting thread is appearance – after all, we design things to be looked at. Take perfume bottles: the double achievement of being beautiful to look at and responsible for the consumer’s beauty in the product. Surely this is the desired outcome for bottle design.
Its next step is the limited edition. Companies release rarer, more valuable versions of existing products, adding another dimension to the ways in which we consume. Two examples on the shelves are Carolina Herrera’s ‘Good Girl’ and Jean Paul Gaultier’s ‘in the Navy’. The former comes as a stiletto heel, half-painted, half-transparent, available in 30ml, 50 or 80. The latter, containing notes of vanilla, mint and lavender, comes as a male body frame in horizontal blue and white stripes. Both bottles are sleek, smart, and eye-catching. If we are to consult Rams’ principles: the pair are aesthetic without being obtrusive, innovative yet as little as design as possible.
As a bottle, ‘Good Girl’ is somewhere between the elegance of Dior’s ‘Adore’ and the provocation of the Zen bamboo/stone/shell range. The fourth of Rams’ principles is “to make a product understandable” – it achieves this, declaring its “for her” market, but without over-feminising its design. The JPG bottle is also unrestricted by gender divides, being the ‘Le Male’ sister product to the ‘Classique’ version for women:
Another of Rams’ principles is to be “environmentally friendly”: a different kind of progress, which is everywhere. Sana Jardin work with a “Beyond Sustainability” initiative; Clean Reserve meanwhile manufacture their fragrances in a solar-powered factory, house them in a recycled/recyclable bottle, and package this in compostable cellophane.
Design may be everywhere you look now, but crucially it’s also looking into the future.
Photos by Jason Yates