We were out looking at product packaging, doing research for a branding seminar when we came across a Bed Head product display in a hair salon. The Bed Head line is known for having young, cool and unusual packaging, so this display really stood out. We picked up a can of Masterpiece Massive Shine Hairspray (pictured above) and tried to open it. No dice. So we asked a salon associate to open it. Strike two. She asked another associate who couldn't open it either -- the cool and unusual packaging does not allow the hand to get a good grip on the cone shaped cap. As hard as you try, your hand keeps slipping off. A crowd was starting to form and the third associate wasn't giving up without a fight. She finally smacked the can against the edge of the checkout counter and voila! off came the cap.
Now we may covet massively shiny hair but that's just too much work to get it. And it's next to impossible for the millions of people of all ages who have some form of arthritis. Masterpiece Massive Shine Hairspray's packaging is a classic case of form over function -- it doesn't have to work, it just has to look good. Not a smart move for a hair care product.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Target's ClearRx prescription bottles. ClearRx bottles were created as a thesis project by Deborah Adler, a design student at the School of Visual Arts. Adler's inspiration was her grandmother. Unlike regular prescription bottles, ClearRx bottles are easy-to-use and easy-to-read. Definitely function over form. But also an art in itself: ClearRx debuted in a New York Museum of Modern Art Exhibit in October 2006.
Packaging is meant to protect the product and to attract shoppers. And opening it should be relatively easy; if it doesn't do these things, it doesn't work. In the end, no matter how cool something looks on your bathroom counter, it's not much good if it takes four people to open it.