I still remember, as a young boy on holiday, being rewarded with an icy
That doesn’t happen by chance. When I joined
Poring over this enormous body of work was equal parts overwhelming and inspirational, and I found myself returning to that famous bottle, with its fluted lines and cascading, organic shape — what noted industrial designer Raymond Loewy described as the “perfect liquid wrapper.” As a piece of design it’s simultaneously intimate and universal, personal and popular. But the timelessness of the bottle isn’t just born from its perfect interplay of sharp and fluid forms, or its indelible silhouette. As I discovered in the company archives, the contour bottle has for 100 years represented one very important concept to
By 1915, 29 years after
And with it was born a promise: “What you are holding in your hand,” the bottle declared, “is genuine
The design became so popular, so familiar and instantly recognizable that just 33 years later, in 1949, a study showed that less than one percent of Americans could not identify the
But by that time the contour bottle had already been stamped in the American consciousness through popular culture and fine art alike. It appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1950, and in the works of sculptor Robert Rauchenberg and painters Salvadore Dali and Sir Edward Paolozzi. By far the most famous portrayal of the Coke bottle remains Andy Warhol’s 1962 work, “Coca Cola,” the seminal and defining image of the American Pop Art movement. In his 1975 book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, the artist describes
What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see
Amazingly, the shape remains relevant even today, a full century on. Just as the silhouette and size morphed subtly over time—sometimes squatter, sometimes leaner or taller, growing from 6.5 ounces to 8-, 10-, and 12-ounce containers—the more contemporary takes on the contour shape have made use of modern materials and techniques. The 20-ounce contour bottle made of recyclable PET plastic was introduced in 1993, while an inventive “contour can” was released in limited editions in 1997. In 2008, the M5 aluminum contour bottle, a reimagining of
And while the contour bottle has been brought into the modern era, I still believe that many of our design solutions of tomorrow will be inspired by the past. That’s why, in 2014,
The results were beyond our wildest expectations, an astonishing compendium of vision and wit. It’s an old saying that in good design, form follows function, but with these myriad approaches, everything from Turner Duckworth’s clever interpretation of the bottle’s original creative brief to Paul Meates' layered repurposing of vintage
With that, I invite you to enjoy this book’s incredible collection of archival photographs, advertisements and designs, plus the exciting new works of Icon + Mashup art. Better yet, grab some friends and family and some ice-cold bottles of Coke, and help us — to borrow a phrase we’ve been using around the office of late — Kiss the Past Hello.
James Sommerville is vice president of global design for The
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