As most of us have experienced, the grocery store is a wildly vivid whirl wind of colours and images. Not unlike the chaos in the jungle of the natural world, the cans, bottles and packaging are all screaming out, talking over each other for our attention. But let’s for a moment, close our eyes.
Now, what drives your choices?
In the utter silence of the visual world, new sensations emerge that we didn’t even consider previously. Walking through the groceries aisles, we become immune to the claims of 99% fat free, removes stains in under 2 minutes and longest lasting battery. The muted visual dimension opens doors to a plethora of sensory experiences. Suddenly, the echoes of your feet against the floor seem to reverberate your body, and the chill of the frozen food aisle becomes a way for you to explore and recognise where you are. The squelch of the fridges opening, the distant hum of voices and busy bustling of people, the tinks and clinks, rustle and crackle of tin cans, glass bottles and plastic wrapping are all familiar yet evocative and new.
Designer Naoto Fukasawa is a Japanese designer well respected internationally particularly for his concept of exploring subconscious behaviour of people which he called ‘Without Thought’ (Naoto Fukasawa 2015). His works explore and confront human behaviour making way for philosophical discussion and pondering. He currently works as a consultant for corporate companies, devising strategies that will assist them in marketing based on human behaviour as well as social responsibility.
Fukasawa has explored haptic design in his conceptual project Juice Peel. An incredibly stimulating and sensory concept, Juice Peel changes the way we look at the consumption of juice by changing the way we experience it (Beach Packaging Design 2014)
Taking the traditional juice box, Fukasawa strips it bare and considers what juice actually is. Unlike many marketed products on the shelves, he negates the preconceived notions of what design should be. The skins featured on his juice boxes are freakishly realistic, the marriage of man-made and natural elements seeming like a combination one would only find in an alternate reality. The intricate detail is true to the fruit whose juices it encapsulates, causing the user to immediately identify what it is based on texture, shape and appearance (Gajitz 2009).
However, beyond the curious outer layer (pun intended) lies a deeper, more nuanced meaning. The highly evocative and mouth-watering flesh of these fruits simulates our memory of biting into the fruit, puncturing through to feel its juices flood our hungry mouths.(Levenstein 2014) Somewhat disappointingly, we cannot bite into these juice boxes, nor do they smell like the actual fruit- but wait- we could always just go and buy the real thing.
What is confronting about Fukasawa’s design is that it conveys our desire to re-create nature on our own terms. Seemingly a timeless quality of human-kind, the desire to create new life is one that has been talked about, written about and studied throughout history. Despite the obvious nutritional value of raw fruit, juice boxes (and other groceries) boast being 100% natural, no added sugar, organic and so on. The very fact that Fukasawa’s Juice Peels are enticing due to their resemblance to real fruit is an eye opener to the social attitude we possess about processed goods and how it is more valuable when it has been altered with.
Fukusawa’s conceptual design only highlights the strangeness that is abundant all around us, when we distort existing elements of nature and recreate them as disposable, superfluous groceries. While we can argue that these processed copies have a longer shelf life, they also have a longer life becoming waste and landfill unlike the biodegradable, fertile packaging of real fruit which is just as accessible to those of us fortunate enough to have a grocer nearby.
Going back to you at the grocery store; you were perusing through with your eyes closed, experiencing what you have previously always experienced, but it was stimulating because it was new and evocative. You used senses that you hadn’t used before, you experienced the grocery store completely differently. It might have even changed the way you feel about certain products.
You can open your eyes now and take your pick.