Design Inspiration Reviews

Own brand

There’s a book being published next month that I really fancy getting my hands on. This may be of interest to you too if:

  • you are from the UK and aged over 35 (and are the nostalgic sort)
  • you like cool, retro packaging
  • you have a fondness for the font Helvetica

Own Label: Sainsburys Design Studio 1962 - 1977

It’s called Own Label: Sainsburys Design Studio 1962 – 1977.

The previews doing the rounds have brought back loads of childhood memories, as my mum always shopped there. These are the things I was made to unpack and put away to earn my pocket money!

sainsbury's drinks

I definitely remember the Sainsbury’s Cola – no amount of pleading ever saw a ‘proper’ bottle of Coca-Cola or Pepsi in our house (at least it was better than the SodaStream cola).

sainsbury's cola label

It also made me realise you just don’t very often see this simplistic style of design and typography in grocery packaging any more – the remit nowadays seems to be to copy major brands as closely as possible without being sued.

sainsbury's biscuits

I’m sure if you talked to somebody who actually knows about packaging and psychology and what-not they would suggest that it perhaps looks a bit… clinical (some of the packaging is veering very much towards the¬†pharmaceutical) . They may also argue that anything packaged like this nowadays wouldn’t sell as many items as you can’t really tell what’s inside.

sainsbury's salt and pet food

To my mind though, you’d make up the shortfall in that customer-base with hipsters, typography-geeks and people like me who will buy something just because they like the cool design on the box. We’d be clamouring to fill our cupboards with Damien Hirst-esque, mid-century modern design. I’m not saying we don’t have amazing examples of packaging design today, but as a whole, this all seemed so… cool.

sainsbury's peas and dried milk

Do you prefer this style of abstract packaging or the more literal ‘show you what’s in the pack’ packaging?

The designer in me says the former but I can imagine after a rushed trip round the supermarket in a desperate bid to grab a packet of ginger nuts during my work break you might see me opting for the latter.

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  • Reply
    Susannah Conway
    27 August 2011 at 14:59

    I almost broke a finger pre-ordering this beauty!!

    • Reply
      27 August 2011 at 15:10

      I’d just be sat looking at my kitchen cupboards all day if they were filled with this stuff!

  • Reply
    27 August 2011 at 21:35

    That’s my childhood right there! And I’m still a Sainsburys girl. It’s like the Due North of grocery shopping.

    • Reply
      28 August 2011 at 01:06

      It’s weird, isn’t it – seeing something again that was once so familiar!

  • Reply
    Richard Williams
    8 October 2012 at 16:15

    So funny. I designed the pet food packs. I worked under the great Peter Dixon in the JS in-house studio and loved every minute. The cats were drawn from photos of my two cats and the dog was Peter Dixon’s. I was very proud of these designs and am very flattered by your comments.

    • Reply
      10 October 2012 at 19:16

      Hi Richard – what an amazing story, thanks for commenting! It must have been a fabulous project to work on – looking back it was such a uniquely bold approach to branding. I miss it!

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