Death Takes a Holiday

I’m not too keen on New Year’s resolutions. It seems to me that if something is worth doing, or not doing, why put it off. As I tell the crew at AdamsMorioka, “We show God how pleased we are with him by not procrastinating in our tasks.” They love me for my helpful advice.

If I had to make a New Year’s resolution it would be to drink less. It’s not that I go home and tear through a bottle of cheap gin, waking up in a pool of vomit. My grandparents always had a cocktail before dinner, so it makes sense. But, perhaps, switching from the martini glasses to the giant Melmac mug was a mistake. My plan, however, was waylaid by the beautiful gift of Death’s Door Vodka. Francesca, who makes my daily life run properly at the office, gave it to me for Christmas. She knows me very well. I like good typography, and I like drinking.

I try to veer away from promoting current designers and work here. Since I started writing articles and books over a decade ago, I found that doing an article on one designer pisses off the other 300,000 designers. So I stick with the dead, or well loved. But in this case, I can’t resist. Grip Design in Chicago designed the packaging. I love that it’s unique and beautifully crafted, but it doesn’t slip into gimmick alcohol packaging. The name, Death’s Door, is the tour de force. Items such as alcohol, automobiles, skateboards, and space heaters should allude to the fact that they may kill you. I don’t want to buy a Feature Comfort Space Heater, I want the Exterminating Angel of Fire Heater.

So Fine

Yesterday, the office surprised me with lunch from Dinah’s Chicken. We’ve covered this before, but I’m obsessed with the Dinah’s bucket. It is the most incredible piece of packaging design in the world. Herbert Bayer be damned, that bucket kicks ass. Maybe I love it because it justified decisions we made when we designed Mr. Cecil’s Ribs. We did this before we were aware of the remarkable Dinah’s bucket. Noreen was the creative lead. I love how she combined a southern decorative vernacular with minimalism. Some may think it lacking in high-end classic aesthetics, but it’s a rib restaurant, not The Four Seasons. Which leads to the Dinah’s bucket. It’s a fried chicken joint in Glendale, and the bucket doesn’t pretend to be anything else. How often can you truly say, “So many typefaces, so little space,” and be correct?

The Bucket List

Right now, my Trans-media class at Art Center is working on a rebranding of Kentucky Fried Chicken. You may say, “That’s dumb.” It’s actually a complicated issue. First, there is the name issue. It used to be Kentucky Fried Chicken, then the “Fried” thing was scary, so it became KFC. Unfortunately, an untrue rumor was spread that claimed it was called KFC because they couldn’t legally say "Chicken" due to the extreme genetic engineering. So the brand sits in a nebulous territory. There’s also an ethical issue that students need to face regarding fast food’s production, distribution, and nutrition.

The complex issues aside, I’ve decided that a chicken bucket is a wonderful thing. I’d eat fried chicken every day for the rest of my life if it wouldn’t kill me, or turn me into someone that needed to be fed in bed and turned over with an oar. The old chicken buckets don’t shy away from information. The new buckets scream, “Brand, brand, brand.” I like information. It makes sense to do the giant “brand” design on something like a shopping bag. People carry it around and it becomes a billboard. This isn’t the case with fried chicken. I don’t see many people walking around malls with red fried chicken buckets.

Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket, 2000s