Unearthing lost skills and crafts in beauty
By Nick Dormon
Now more than ever, we are seeing the beauty world turn to time honored traditions that draw on ancient cultures and heritage.
Now more than ever, we are seeing the beauty world turn to time honored traditions that draw on ancient cultures and heritage. Contemporary beauty brands are inspiring new interest and gravitas amongst consumers who desire the discovery of lost skills and crafts in beauty.
When designing products that play on the art of unearthing past rituals, the challenge lies in designing provenance in a contemporary and relevant way. Graphic design, illustration, structure and the optimum packaging materials all have an integral role. Designing tone of voice is also crucial as the communication of product descriptions and directions is especially important and very much part of creating delight for the consumer. Here we review three brands successfully recognising and responding to this shift.
Inspired by her Cuban great-grandmother’s beauty recipes taken from edible ingredients and the realisation that there was a growing audience for kitchen cosmetics, Tina Hedges founded Loli. Based on a Direct-to-Consumer subscription model, each of the monthly parcels comes packed with pre-measured, sustainably sourced ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions. In the case of Loli, this desire for discovery is inherent in every touch point. For example the back to basic packaging lets the ingredients compel and take center stage, whilst the blend-it-yourself recipes vary from kit to kit. A brand inspired by heritage, Loli combines this with a fresh contemporary look and feel that brings relevance today.
Exploring ancient rituals
The global beauty brand Lush Cosmetics recently launched its latest product innovation, a solid mouthwash. The mouthwash tablets are inspired by the traditional Japanese ritual of gargling. A custom that is said to have been around since the Heian period, ‘bukubuku’ (rinsing the mouth) and ‘garagara’ (rinsing the throat) gargling techniques have traditionally been used to cleanse impurities from outside or following a meal. With three flavours, the Ugai variant is packed with Australian antibacterial tea tree and Atlantic sea salt, green tea powder is also a key ingredient and regarded in Japan as a medicinal herb in Japan. These ingredients add another layer of credibility and provenance to the product. By basing the ritual around the behaviours of a trusted Japanese generation, Lush has created both intrigue and confidence around a product experience that could otherwise be polarising.
Reach back in time
Fuelled by political unease at home and negative press associated with the high street giants, some bigger brands are suffering from a lack of trust and the changing perception that smaller local brands are more trustworthy. In reaction to this, brands are reaching into the past and dusting down the archives in an attempt to feel more honest and authentic. Choosing to avoid the futuristic, high-tech design that had become synonymous with the industry. Harry’s is a male grooming brand set to take things back to a time when things were simpler, less clustered and easy to access. This narrative being told to their audience via strong design decisions from the simple, minimal and clean packing to their shaving handles that have taken inspiration from old pens and knives.
What does this mean for your brand?
Be Adventurous: Surprise you consumer with new rituals or traditions and allow them to explore alternative parts of the globe through your brand lens. Consider how graphics and illustration and celebrate this provenance is a contemporary way that is unique to your brand truth.
Allow a new packaging structure or format tell the story of your ritual and wholly engage the consumer in the process. Structural design can help educate and delight the consumer in a new product discovery.
Borrow from the locals:
When it fits with your brand values, tap into local knowledge, artists and experts to help give your brand deeper local relevance.
It's not enough to simply lift design from the archives, consider the heritage associated with your brand values and look to re-appropriate nostalgic designs for a more authentic and contemporary feel.
Originally published in Beauty Packaging Magazine
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