Illustrious packaging with Malcolm Garrett (so far...)

Malcolm Garrett's good friend Martyn Ware is putting together a compilation of some of the sound artworks he's made under the House of Illustrious banner with Vince Clarke, to be released on Mute Records in a few months' time. Since Malcolm was part of our origins, he kindly thought of ARTOMATIC for the packaging.

This is a tale of development. The set consists of ten CDs and the original thought was to do a perspex cube with each of the CD's held horizontally like a plan chest. This proved to be extortionately expensive, so we went back to a project we did for Alexander McQueen in 98, which consisted of a CD held between two thick perspex discs screwed together on a spindle. All we had to do was extend the spindle to hold ten CD's and interleaved paper (carrying the track listing, one for each disc).



So far so good. We got a prototype made and although it didn't hold enough CD's, it was good enough to start working on something to put it in. We started to think about jewelry packaging and with a bit of on-the-spot box design arrived at a lift-off lid box with a foam insert to present the CD set at a flattering angle.

Though Mute had not given us much of a steer on budget, when we showed it to them–not entirely unexpectedly–they suddenly managed to come up with a figure much smaller than the cost of the box. So, back to the drawing board and Martyn had said he wanted something clear and still jewel-ish and art-ish. The next idea was to mount the CD set in a kind of plinth inside a clear box.

Though the cost was much less, it didn't really look the part. The plastic for the box, unfortunately, has a language of cheap-goods-from China and not the art-piece association we'd hoped for. It's always a challenge–especially when quantities are small and there's not the volume to ammortise the origination costs–to get the right signals from the materials you can afford.

So, last Wednesday, I found myself with Malcolm once more sketching and plotting how we create something that references art, is reverential to the product (still in the perspex, thankfully), and costs less than it looks. We think we may have something, but we'll know more next week when we meet Martyn.

To be continued...