The New Stuff

Bluray Packaging: Helvetica’s “Record” Sleeve Packaging


The typeface Helvetica, a movie directed by Gary Hustwit, was released in bluray format in 2008. It was packaged in a beautiful record sleeve with a very playful design. It was designed by Experimental Jetset from Netherlands. Why a record sleeve? Here’s a text explaining their concept behind this bluray packaging.

Thinking about a packaging for this Blu-ray disk, we first started to consider the whole concept of Blu-ray itself. It is yet another format, the latest in a string of formats, and just like VHS and DVD, this format will be obsolete soon. This whole theme, of obsolete formats, is something that we have always found interesting; in fact, towards the end of 2000, we dedicated a whole issue of Emigre magazine on this subject (see Lost Formats). So we thought it would be interesting to come up with a packaging that would revolve around this whole theme of formats. That’s when we decided to package the Blu-ray disk in a record sleeve, referring to the vinyl 12” LP, a now almost defunct format. There’s also another reason why we chose a record sleeve as packaging. When we first met Gary, he tried to explain the concept of the Helvetica film to us. “A rock documentary, but about a typeface”, that’s how he described it to us. So a record sleeve as packaging for this documentary made perfect sense to us.

But besides the fact that the spirals refer to records, we also liked the idea of Helvetica as a typeface spiralling out of control, revolving almost like a planet, or a dark sun, a universe in itself. Next, we hoped that the spiral-like disc would refer to rays, radiation and sci-fi radar technology, underlining the whole idea of Blu-ray.

We also really wanted to show the typeface as a sort of deconstructed type specimen. We thought it would be good to show the typeface without actually showing it. As you see, the forms shown on the sleeve are not recognizable as letters, but you can still notice the shapes that are characteristic for Helvetica. We thought this was interesting.”

Just lovely!

Helvetica Blu-ray

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