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An Illustrated Chronology of Packaging Innovation

Book and Research Project

Ever wondered what on earth a packaging peanut is or why it exists? And why a peanut!?

I started with this question and when I googled it, there were plenty of answers, for the most part, they were dry and uninspiring. Until I found a result for the original patent for the machine that made them.

Looking through the original patent, I had a sense of connection with the engineer behind it, and before I knew it I was down a rabbit hole of cited patents.

Some of them were filed by lone engineers with hand-drawn illustrations and rationales that were personal. Others were created by teams to improve upon their existing methods.

Now, I knew I wanted to showcase these patents and I didn’t want to lose the charm and character of the original drawings but the subject matter is pretty dull, at best.

The trick was to create a book that would allow me to make them accessible. Fun.

An Illustrated Chronology of Packaging Innovation book

The rationales on the patents often alluded to a specific use or situation which, whilst important at the time, was often hard to understand.

When I started working on how I wanted the book to function, I decided upon a timeline. So whilst I could go back and show the progression of the packaging products, I could also tie in the relevant social, political and environmental factors that were the driving forces behind these changes.

The illustration style was originally going to be more functional, but once I drew my first Kraken (on page two – I didn’t resist for long) I realised that an element of humour would be essential for holding interest and making the book fit for purpose.

I had started with the idea of a book that would require the reader to open every page on a different angle, effectively meaning that to turn a page you would have to close the book and reopen it on a  different edge.

Before I had a chance to put this (arguably annoying) premise into place I mis-folded my mock up and it was.. perfect!

A series of pages that would read like a normal book, all the same way up when read as a book. But if I could ‘undo’ the spine of the book I could lay the whole thing out as one big piece!

For a full, higher-res version; click here (57MB PDF)