This is what the Croatian designers Bruketa & Zinic call an over-the-top annual
report, “dedicated to the pleasure one takes in cooking and eating food.” It was
produced for the Croatian-based Podravka Company (which grew from a fruit-
and-vegetable-processing business in 1934 into what it is today: the largest
packaged food-producing company in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe),
whose utilitarian package designs are not nearly as progressive or ambitiously
designed as this report. Nonetheless, the ironically titled
Slow Food does
communicate the essence of the Podravka brand, whose motto is “company
with a heart.” You can feed someone only if you put your heart into it,
proclaims the company's public relations materials. “Food has become more
than just a physiological necessity,” add Bruketa and Zinic. “The old saying 'Love
goes through the stomach' is very true. And that's what the report is saying:
Feed me with love.”
This corporate report, with its surfeit of appetizing tricks and
gimmicks—fold-out recipes, three-dimensional embossed photographic covers,
and French-fold pages—is indeed full of heart and love for graphic design,
but its also replete with all the necessary business data, presented in an
appealing manner. The designers explain there are two levels of communication
embedded in this bilingual book: the rational—expressed mostly through facts
and figures—and the emotional—presented through design that communicates
the brand's values.
To produce such a resplendent object, the designers had to be totally
convinced by the corporate mythos, which they recite without faltering: “The
entire report is permeated with love for cooking, from the covers and all
through the report,” say Bruketa and Zinic. And they spared little on either the
production or the creative side to make it so. The cover is made of tablecloth
and wrapped in baking paper. The aluminum foil placed in the middle of the
report contains hearts with thermoreactive dye that, when warmed, reveals
recipes. The pages with French folds hide unique recipes. No resources were
spared in the production.
But the designers did have to address some practical concerns. With all
these tasty hors d'oeuvre, the report had to be protected from the elements,
which is why the embossed covers are done in plastic, not paper, and then
covered in a separate sheath. The need to protect has long been the mother of
design invention for other book-objects, where boxes, slipcases, and even far-
out coverings like gloves are used both to project an aesthetic aura and to
protect it. Books and annual reports like Slow Food, which are manufactured to
be lasting and collectible objects. have a long and creatively rich history.
Speaking of protection, plastic has often been used both to protect and
reinforce the objectness of the book. Herbert Bayer's 1930
Section Allemand
exhibition, a modernist-inspired catalog by the Bauhaus master, designed with a
plastic cover featuring embossed letters, was used to evoke a Machine Age
sensibility while sparing the book from corrosive elements. In 1970, the soft
plastic cover for a catalog of pop artist Claes Oldenberg's work (designed by Ivan
Chermayeff), was perfectly suited for an artist who made monumental sculptures
out of that very substance, and it served the more utilitarian goal of making it
more durable that most catalogs.
The use of beautiful French-fold sheets also contributes to making
Food a durable and appealing design object, providing an air of sophistication that
the annual report for any other company that sells frozen vegetables, cream of
cheese soup, and spaghetti with tomato sauce might never achieve.
Slow Food
Designer: Bruketa & Zinic
2005 Slow Food, annual report
ad,d: Davor Bruketa, Nikola Zinic s: Bruketa & Zinic c: Podravka d.d.
Annual report focusing on the core of the food company's philosophy—a company with a
heart. The idea is that you can feed someone only if you put your heart into it.
Cardboard slipcases and boxes
Unusual cover materials
Usage of French fold

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