Carnero's Illustrations Beef-Up Their Glorious Packaging

by Casha Doemland on 02/06/2019 | 3 Minute Read

Biltong, slices of marinated and dried meat originally from South Africa, is officially making its way into the Italian market with Carnero. While you might assume biltong is similar to beef jerky, typically the cut of meat is much thicker and the drying time is longer; it also isn't smoked like jerky, and usually, there's a much higher fat content.  Since this was the first time Bitlong would be produced in Italy, Carnero realized they needed to find the perfect designer, and they reached out to creative studio The 6th to build their vision.

The designers at The 6th surpassed expectations, and inspired by the golden years of Italian graphic design, they created two sets of characters for the front of the packaging and twenty-five separate designs on the back that would create a poster when collected.

To uncover the inspiration behind the one-of-a-kind packaging, we spoke with creative director Emanuele Basso.

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Walk us through the design process. How did you go from start to finish on this project?

The client had a clear idea about the name Carnero. Carne is Italian for meat.

We couldn’t use the client's name, of course, but a name like Carnero allows us to introduce the product to the audience that doesn’t know what biltong is: we’re talking about Carne. That was clever.

There was also a famous boxer in the 1930s whose name was Primo Carnera—this served as a good jumping off point for the start of our research. All the images that came to our mind about 1930's Italy were connected to futurism, the art movement bound to strength, action and graphic design in the sense of the use of lines, shapes and colors.

After researching some more graphic styles of that decade, we opted to add a bit of our own flair with a character to refine the severity of the futuristic lines.

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What is the significance behind the cartoon character on the front of the packaging? Why did you choose to take this direction?

The character is an Italian farmer who jokes with his fellow cows.  For the Classic flavor he pretends to have horns to make fun, and for the Spicy,  he’s participating in a chili contest with a red cow.

Having a character makes the product more fun to the customers and also can make it easier for the storytelling.

Also, creating a character for the cow that is not realistic and more cartoonish helps not to feel too cruel.

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Why did you opt to create 25 different rear designs on the packaging?  Where did the inspiration arise from?

We were looking for an idea for the launch of Carnero in some selected gyms and shops.

We had the opportunity to use a specialized printer by HP, which allows one to print customized pieces of packaging, even for small releases. Since the product was new and we didn't want the confusion of creating a lot of different front-sides for the pouches, we opted to switch it up on the rear with an illustration that could be spread amongst multiple bags.

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As the first biltong produced in Italy, did you feel pressure to develop the perfect packaging?

Working on packaging for a product that people don’t know is tough: first, you have to be clear about telling what you are selling, then you can go further with your design. I think we found the right balance with Carnero.

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What types of challenges did you encounter during the process and how did you overcome them?

Unfortunately, we couldn’t have the window on the special 25-pouches packagings, so we printed it without. We will, however, have the window for the smaller pouches that are in production right now.

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