Packaging Innovation
May 9, 2014

Exploring the fine line between retro packaging design and old-fashioned design

Retro packaging design has to look “old”, while at the same time exude “newness” and “creativity”. Indeed, it’s a fine line between the two, especially for a packaging designer whose job it is to make attractive, original concepts. Nonetheless, there are some pretty marvelous retro designs out there, well worth your time.

“Old” is not the same as “retro”

There’s a fine line between “retro” and plain “old-fashioned”. The former catapults consumers straight back 50 or more years ago, while at the same time maintaining a sense of originality. The latter is just a rehash of something we’ve seen before, without bringing anything new to the table.

You could consider the T-shirts you wore five years ago as old but you certainly wouldn’t call them retro, right? So what about retro packaging? What are the hazards a packaging designer should steer clear from when sitting behind the drawing table?

Retro packaging design speaks to the heart

The appeal of retro packaging is clear: it reminds consumers of a past that was perhaps less stressful and more laid-back than modern times. One of the main characteristics of any retro package design is that it exhibits “warmth of yonder days”. Though vague as this may sound, it definitely stands in stark contrast with modern day package design, which is usually sleek, colorful and functional. Retro packaging speaks more to the heart while, at the same time, adding a feeling of nostalgia without being old-fashioned.

Quality of the past

Successful retro packaging doesn’t only exude oldness – 20 or more years ago – it also stands for “quality”. Packaging designers going retro have to make sure they don’t merely copy an old design or old idea but add something new as well – a touch of creative genius if you will.

Easier said than done of course. So to get you started, we have selected some of our favorite retro packaging designs!

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