The curves of a woman’s body have been the muse of artists throughout the centuries. Package designer Tirso Olivares is one such artist, whose latest mission was to come up with a plastic bottle for a new product line of Dial NutriSkin hand and body lotion in North and Central America. The assignment was Olivares’ second for Henkel Consumer Goods Inc., for which he recently designed ergonomic spray-bottles for two Soft Scrub products, Total Bath & Bowl and Total Kitchen.
NutriSkin represents a first in the health and beauty category for Olivares, whose two-decade-plus career includes a wide variety of structural work for A-list brand clients. Henkel had been tracking the hand and body lotion market for some time and thought it was time to leverage some of the consumer equity it built with Dial’s household name recognition, explains Shannon Bowers, Henkel senior package design manager.
A healthier you
Dial is among seven brands that Bowers oversees from the Scottsdale, AZ, office of the Germany-based Henkel, and Bowers acts as the liaison between marketing and design. For a brand-new product line like NutriSkin, Henkel wanted to push the envelope a bit, which is why Bowers tapped the talents of Olivares.
Olivares immediately thought about how he could use nature as a metaphor for beauty and health. “I looked at the brand positioning of the product and its tag line, ‘Healthier Skin, Healthier You,’” Olivares recalls. “I asked myself: ‘What is beauty?’ That’s how I get inspired.” He kept coming back to the curves of a woman’s body as a way for Henkel to convey body care imagery that would stand out from a crowded field on store shelves.
Nina Daily, the Henkel brand manager for Dial, notes that the men’s product wasn’t planned from the start, but as the line was being developed it made more and more sense strategically. “There was heritage with men and the Dial brand,” Daily says. Men need skin nutrition, too, after all.
Olivares explains that he created the package’s curving lines for “a feminine touch,” but the right color choices would fit the gender-specific products. “White’s pretty much the beauty category,” he says. “White basically says clean.” The dark gray of the men’s NutriSkin bottle creates a nice juxtaposition to the white, and the men’s closure adds a metallic sheen, which Olivares says fosters associations with men and cars.
In terms of the bottle’s shape, Daily says that the company was confident about the curvy bottle’s appeal at retail. But equally important was an ergonomic design that users of both genders would enjoy without fear of it slipping out of their hands.
Olivares designed the closure to be integrated with the bottle’s smooth curves, which mimic the petals of a flower surrounding a bud. The sensual curves “embrace” the closure to create an image of unification and elegance. “The flowing line unifies the closure with the bottle,” Olivares says. “It’s almost like a leaf coming out. All those little details, like the naturally shaped finger indentation, are details that resonate with the consumer.”
Daily adds that consumers in focus groups were queried on how they dispense lotion, how they hold the product, where they store it, and what “visual cues” they seek from packages on store shelves. Test subject responses to the proposed Olivares design were roundly positive, and Olivares says he didn’t end up changing anything as a result of the final round of review.
After Olivares submitted his final integrated bottle and closure design, Henkel’s home office in Germany had a few bottom-line concerns. The company wondered if any of the patented closures that the company already owned could be utilized for the new NutriSkin lotion bottle, but to no avail.
“Germany was very involved with this project,” Olivares says. Henkel also put high priority on ensuring that the lotion—all of it—would pour easily from the bottle. Olivares gives a great deal of credit to Henkel’s engineers as well as those at closure manufacturer Seaquist Closures (a division of Aptar) and bottle manufacturer Matrix Packaging (a Sonoco Company), who all executed his vision. Seaquist finalized the engineering of the bottles, including working out the exact specifications for the closure, the bottle, and the treads.
“To have the right package was very, very important to Henkel,” says Olivares. “We went in a couple of directions of ‘what if.’ We got sidetracked, but in the end, what’s important is that we ended up with a very unique and cool bottle.” Remarkably, Olivares still designs mostly with hand sketches, believing he’s most effective and efficient that way. He turns the sketches into two-dimensional drawings that are translated into 3D with the help of several computer programs. For this project, he had the advantage of Henkel’s in-house modeling capability.
“There’s a difference when you’re able to grab the bottle in your hand,” says Olivares. “You always end up making changes. All the details of how it opens with your fingers—you’re not able to tell until you have a 3D model. Then there’s always refinement.”