For the retail displays, signage, and fixtures I typically work with, I find that one of the best sources of inspiration for me is architecture…especially interiors. On that note, obviously Metropolis magazine is a big one for me. I also like to keep tabs on the industry mags (POP Times, Creative magazine). It’s helpful to see how competitors handled a program that you had also worked on. Even the times when you thought you had a sweet solution, you’ll see what the competition did and say; "Yeah, I have to admit it sure is cooler / simpler / more elegant / etc than my idea.
I find my biggest source of inspiration is the brand itself. I find typically the designers/creative types who work the brand guidelines have done all the leg work as it were and I just need to figure out how that would translate to a 3rd dimension.
Obviously there’s a lot more to it than that but I find I always study the brand as much as possible to understand where it’s coming from and who their intended audience is. Quite often from this starting point things design themselves.
It’s much harder though when the brand is a piece of shit
I end up looking at the personal devices, clothing, and jewelry that the targeted consumer interacts with on a daily basis. I try to incorporate the relationships of those items into the packaging that I’m developing for that consumer.
If I’m having a hard time making that connection, I look further into the lifestyle of that individual until I have something to play off of.
I’m with Loafer…my biggest inspiration s the brand itself. The company I work for (MAC Cosmetics) has such a strong brand identity and language already. I also take a lot of inspiration from the internal collections that we do. Everything form the Beauty images to the ambient and product shots to what the window may be. It also helps if you know what its on counter with and when. Or what next might be coming down the pipe so what you do doesn’t clash with future programs.
We are a bit the same as well but also a bit different. Our brands such as M&M’s, Dove, Snicker all have pretty strict style guides, but with our seasonal packaging we still look outside for inspiration. We pull from fashion, kids toys, houseware, high end chocolate trends and many others.
As far as websites and magazines, I have to say that Matropolous and TheDieline.com has to be two of my favorites. I also am an avid reader of Innovation magazine from the IDSA and like to flip through Dwell every now and then. When working on Dove Chocolate products I will even go through the typical women’s magazines such as Vogue, OK, Cosmo, etc…sense the dove brand is geared towards women. It is amazing what a man can learn flipping through those.
I’d also have to agree with loafer and coledf, especially when you work for licensed brands you have strict guidelines to follow. My main two brands, Nautica and Marc Ecko both have very specific brand identities, so when translating to 3D first you have to look at the brand itself. Then its a matter of incorporating what you know works and doesn’t work in POP/Packaging. After that I usually look at what’s maybe a degree or two away from the brand. For example for Ecko, i look at extreme sports like supercross, skateboarding, specifically the culture the brand is focused at. You can always look at other products the company is making. I am pretty tight with the creative teams at these companies so going to their office and seeing what they are doing with shoes and jackets always helps. Plus they love seeing these details in what you design for them.
How much of your business is influence by the fashion world? I would imagine this is very important to your company and is kind of a given. Does this effect your environmental and package design? If so were do you get your inspiration for this or your trend research.
Loads of it are influenced by the fashion industry. but at the same time the Cosmetic world also influences the trend. Its pretty integrated. We get a lot of trend feedback from our artists (makeup artists).= from the different fashion weeks from around the globe. We dont usually pay any mind to the color forecasts used fro traditional ID. Generally we are two years ahead of the trends that are released. We do a lot of our own research internally. We go to Fashion shows, and art gallery openings as well as different photoshoots for fashion brands to get a better idea of whats out there and what will be out there.
It definitely influences the environments and the packaging because the trends help define what we are doing. Its pretty interesting how it all comes together.
Great to know. I am working on a project right now that is heavily cosmetic influenced and have actually been studying Mac and many others. As you know cosmetics are the gods of the packaging world as you generally have a lot of money to spend and can do some really cool stuff.