Crit* Ernest Supplies

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Ernest Supplies is a new range of premium skin care products created for the male market formulated from 100% natural ingredients.

The packaging, created by New York based design agency Miloby, fuses the utilitarian qualities of military ration packs, classic medical iconography, personal and analogous language alongside subtle cosmetic cues.

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“We approached the design of Ernest Supplies – a new 100% natural men’s skincare line – with the idea that it was a part with a man’s real life; that it felt like it already belonged.The client sought something that felt simple yet evolved and we knew it needed to look like it worked.The product is made in the US and all of the formulations use only 100% natural ingredients, which inspired us to not use a typical “bottle in a box” associated with premium skincare packaging. We started over. We sought to align the product philosophy as closely as possible with the design philosophy.The identity expresses the healing properties of the antioxidants and vitamins contained within. The package leaves behind the smallest carbon footprint possible.The custom pouches are designed to be tough enough to be shoved into overstuffed bags, lightweight enough to travel and still look good when your date snoops in your medicine cabinet at home. The small custom spout allows just the right amount of product to come out...every last drop.”

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Often typified by a proprietary, masculine mix of clinical and technological language and dynamic visual cues, ‘science’ is commonly relied upon to provide a bridge between the premium skincare category and the adult male market. Ernst Supplies discards these in favour of a military ration-pack sensibility that places functionality and practicality at the very heart of the brand through a very straightforward resolution of horizontal lines, geometry, grids and what looks like Gotham. The combination delivers an interesting sense of inertia to a sector where speed is common place, capturing qualities such as steadfast reliability and neutrality (ideal for an all natural fragrance free product) that appears distinctive and unique. A simple hierarchy, short sentences, generous line and paragraph spacing help to establish and convey the military/skincare routine analogy.

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The cross, positioned tight against the top edge of the pack beneath the cap, creates a neat union between the graphic and structural design that manages to extract a little more equity and originality from a highly saturated form. This is set against a deep green delivers a natural but military duality while the blue, red and purple coloured blocks and lighter typeface, introduce a more conventional cosmetic sensibility and deliver the key differentiator between product type. 

Unfortunately a linguistic, analogous and superfluous mix of war (defend, fights), sport (offense, defense), construction (‘we built a product’) and maintenance (grime and oil), alongside personal (my friend) and narrative detail (by making thoughtful products for friends) struggles to resolve itself with the effective functionality and utilitarian aspirations of the graphic design.

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Apart from a minimalistic restraint, on-trend neutrality and originality through authenticity there is very little here that implies that the range is premium. It does however offer an interesting alternative to the on-the-go metro-sexual market that, apart from the subtle cosmetic cues, very nearly feels like a true military product which neatly avoids stencil cut and camouflage cliches.

Opinion by Richard Baird

@richbaird