Weird & Wonderful Retro Packaging Designs From The Future!!

Derrick Lin


Packaging designers go back to their roots – excessive packaging is history!

Do you remember when packaging used to look like this?
These cans are around 70 years old, so chances are you wouldn’t have been drinking beer when these were around!

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Skip forward a few decades, and packaging manufacturers are using all sorts of weird and wonderful materials to increase sales of food and drink.

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McDonald’s used to sell its food in styrofoam cartons during the 90s – a time when ‘more is more’ seemed to be the order of the day when packaging was concerned!

Back to the Future

These days, brands with their finger on the pulse know that the only way to stay ahead is to go back in time with vintage inspired designs, and environmentally friendly concepts.

Sustainability and excessive packaging are two issues which are constantly in the media spotlight. The amount of packaging and the biodegradability of the materials now plays an important role in people’s buying decisions. Vintage designs remind us of a time when packaging seemed simple, rustic and un-flashy. By channeling this aesthetic, designers can distance a brand from the garish, larger than life packaging trends of recent decades.

Retro Steel Beer Can

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It looks more like a museum artefact, but this can is actually the 2012 design of US beer brand Churchkey. The packaging is inspired by the flat-top steel can design of the 1930s, and is reminiscent of old Americana memorabilia. The cans are also 100% recyclable.

Lush Uses Popcorn Packaging

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Lush has come up with an ingenious solution to unsustainable packaging for its handmade soaps and beauty products – popcorn! Not only can you get excited when the postman brings a boxful of their cruelty free cosmetics, you can enjoy a tasty snack too! This idea harks back to the old days when people would use whatever they had available to use as packaging – including their own crops. The epitome of rustic!

Puma’s Clever Little Bag

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A super cool solution for the retro-styled sportswear brand. This design is ever so slightly reminiscent of the drawstring bags you used to carry your PE kit to school in the 90s. Reusable and space-saving, the design also eliminates the need for plastic carrier bags and comes in handy for transporting your trainers to and from the gym or storing them in your wardrobe.

Old Fashioned Kettle Chips

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‘Old Fashioned Kettle Chips’ – a fast-food brand fully embracing the ‘old fashioned-equals- honest’ maxim. These kettle chips are packaged in compostable packaging which looks like old brown paper bags. They give you the feeling that the product must be healthier than brands with modern packaging – ‘just like mama used to make them!’

Gatorade 360 Paper Bottle

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Not strictly a retro design, however the 360 paper bottle uses one of the most old school packaging materials around – paper. It’s the antithesis to the wasteful plastic variety, and hopefully more and more drinks manufacturers will start to catch on: every day, Americans throw 60m plastic bottles into landfill and only 14% are recycled. This paper version is fully biodegradable.

Tide Retro Washing Miracle!

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Tide is a US detergent brand which knows how to use the power of nostalgia to appeal to consumers. The recyclable bottle beards a retro font and logo design and brings to mind images of vintage housewives and gleaming kitchens.

Y Water? Y Knot?!

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Our final example is one of the most fun! Y Water’s cute and unconventional bottle designs will no doubt help shift products, but they’re also a great way to encourage kids to be creative and reuse empty containers. The Y Knot bottles can be clipped together to create castles, animals and other crazy designs. I’m not even going to attempt to make the tenuous link to the golden age when kids used their imagination to turn empty washing up liquid bottles into space rockets and cornflake boxes into cars – these designs are as futuristic as it gets!

We hope you have enjoyed reading about our favourite retro and sustainable packaging design – what are yours?

Written by Amy Maslin on behalf of Graphic Packaging, the UK’s fastest growing packaging manufacturer.