Opened this past December after nearly a decade of expectation, the first Whole Foods in Brooklyn, NY, in the Gowanus neighborhood is now a reality, adding to the more than 370 existing locations around the U.S.. At over 56,000 square-feet, this new location features bike repair and parking, knife sharpening, a vinyl record store, a killer coffee section, and an “assortment of locally sourced offerings from some of Brooklyn and the tri-state area’s most highly-regarded local artisans” to add to the, literally, thousands of private label products offered by Whole Foods, which have been given a special treatment from New York-based Mucca, specifically for this location (and has since been adopted by other stores in the Northeast).
In a retail environment like Whole Foods, where new products are introduced on a daily basis, each system needed to be flexible enough to fit a wide variety of container types and signage platforms — yet simple enough to produce on a regional scale. For the private label system, we created a premium look that would be eye-catching in any context.
Using custom versions of Shift by Jeremy Mickel and Halsey Bold by Joshua Darden, the products have a fun, freshly-baked vibe that goes well with the rugged, ornamental images we might have of Brooklyn. I’m not a huge fan of the thin lines on the tops and bottoms but the typography in the stark-white backgrounds against all kinds of food stuffs looks quite tasty.
With dozens of different container shapes and sizes, and a variety of signage platforms, our goal was to create a flexible system with a look that is instantly recognizable.
The result is a system that can be disassembled, reassembled, stripped down, built upon, then built upon again — while always remaining synonymous with Whole Foods.
More than a very specific, controlled packaging system, this project demands a flexibility that will allow the in-house design team to churn out hundreds of new labels, stickers, bags, wrappers, and more all with the same feel but not necessarily an overly prescriptive approach. This preamble is meant to curb any gut reactions that these samples all look overly simple and perhaps lacking the detailed approach we expect from packaging. Most of these things are probably designed the morning before they go out on the floor so a few simple graphic devices and a strong family of type carry the weight here.
We developed the environmental signage system at the same time, introducing a suite of graphic assets that perform just as well on chalkboards as they do on floor-to-ceiling windows. Working closely with internal teams and the Whole Foods leadership, we ensured that both systems would serve everyone’s needs.
Overall, it’s hard not to like this. It’s consistent, it’s bold, it’s non-gender-specific (appealing to everyone) and, more interestingly, it gives New Yorkers and, specifically Brooklynites, the sense that something special was made for them, something that no one else can get outside of the little microcosm that is the Gowanus canal. For Whole Foods Brooklyn photo porn, see here and here.