Strangeharvest is a collection of writing and projects about architecture and design. Strangeharvest is made by Sam Jacob.
The Harvest Reviews Read Mes Projects
Silk Cut. The Last Cut is the Deepest.

smokingkills.jpgEarlier this year the UK government decided to ban tobacco advertisements. The impending ad ban precipitated a puff of self congratulatory farewells from the fat old ad men who had grown rich peddling ill health. My own brand, Silk Cut, had some torturous gag about a piece of purple silk looking like a fat lady singing - as shittily unfunny as the decades of bad puns, as tedious as the worlds worst mime artist.

The government also slapped gigantic warnings on the packaging of tobacco products. And with this big black san serif font they hoped to neutralise the hypnotic black arts of marketing. 

A while before, Silk Cut themselves had done something much more off putting than threats of imminent death - a clueless rebranding including soft graduated fills and swirling logos like the offspring of low-cal chocolate and sanitary towels.  My hideous physical dependance on nicotine was worse than the hideous physical appearance.

On the day that the last batch of posters were papered over or torn down, and the shelves of newsagents restocked something remarkable appeared. Something that made 20 years of terrible punning and cod surrealism (almost) worthwhile:

First, the Silk Cut logo had reverted to its former deep and regal purple. Second, the new government health warning was printed on the lower portion of the packet. The size of the warning meant that the logo would have to move. The proportions of the box left nowhere to go but higher up. The logo is carefully and tidily centred equidistant to the top and sides of the box. But against this standard Quark Xpress graphic design is something uncomfortable and unnatural -  the flip-top lid slices right through the logo. Right in the heart of the badge, a gaping hole opens up. Its dark and deviant, a kind of self mutilation, like Ritchie Manic carving 4 REAL into his arm.

20 years of smug, selfish, boring advertising has suddenly become one of the neatest, most beautiful, subtle and troubling pieces of 3D design since that guy was arrested for slicing the head off Margaret Thatchers statue. Its packaging deign as cynically ruthless as Damien Hirsts chainsaw,  and as clever and nimble as the surgeons scalpel which will one day slice open my chest open in an attempt to save my life. It's graphic design that Turbo B from Snap could legitimately call "as serious as cancer".

First Published in Contemporary.

Posted by sam at May 16, 2004 09:40 PM
The MTPaginate tag only works within PHP documents!
Make sure that the document extension is .php and that your server supports PHP documents.
2) $paginate_current_page = 2; $paginate_sections = array( 0 , 10, 13); $paginate_top_section = $paginate_sections[$paginate_current_page-1]+1; $paginate_bottom_section = $paginate_sections[$paginate_current_page]; } else { $paginate_top_section = 1; $paginate_bottom_section = 13; } $paginate_self = '&' . $_SERVER['QUERY_STRING'] . '&'; $paginate_self = preg_replace("/&page=[^&]*&/", "&", $paginate_self); $paginate_self = substr($paginate_self, 1, strlen($paginate_self) - 1); if($paginate_self == '&') $paginate_self = ''; else $paginate_self = htmlentities($paginate_self); $paginate_self = basename($_SERVER['PHP_SELF']) . "?${paginate_self}page"; ?>

'I, Faker' chronicles the descent of trade journal hack-ism into satirical search for humanity in the deathly press release prose....
December 07, 2004

Whats so great about cab offices at christmas? Well, for starters, its the total lack of conscious design but its also the mystical prehistorical tin foil symbols too ...
November 25, 2004

A fanzine on wheels: The rear window plastered with fading pictures of Freddie, the boot covered with stick-on lettering. The Queen Mobile spotted brightening up a traffic jam around Shepherds Bush....
November 21, 2004

"The objectives of the Knork are: to provide a single utensil capable of providing the benefits of a knife and fork ... "...

They say the first step is to admit to your vice. OK, my name is Sam and I like postmodern architecture. My love for this universally reviled twentieth-century movement began in bargain bookshops. The architecture section was like a Battersea...
November 15, 2004

A Contribution to the Ethical Taxonomy of Political Signage...
November 04, 2004

The secret history of Ketchup...
October 21, 2004

Clova Estate, Aberdeenshire...
September 19, 2004

Imagine sitting at home when suddenly the sky goes white. Not that shadowless white-without-limit where cloud meets mist on a winter morning. But a whiteness with a grid of reinforcements and repeating logos which stops a few yards from...
August 24, 2004

A scrap of of something for Intersection magazine : My parents had a Morris Traveller in the early 1970s. I have vague dreamlike memories of sitting in the back driving through the English countryside with a large clay Cider jug...
June 16, 2004

What happens when London gets bigger and bigger? What happens when postcard London is further away than Reading? When the familiar landmarks that stand for London are far over the horizon. When London is only a tourist destination and a...
May 27, 2004

I was asked by FX magazine to name my 4 favorite things. Here they are: Polly Pocket: Plastic toys which open up, swivel and fold to reveal incredibly intricate, pastel pink and blue landscapes. They have the kind of beauty...
May 16, 2004

Carlton Terrace runs along the back of the Mall, and if you’re ever there on a weekend you might see actors dressed in 19th century costume looking bored and drinking Nescafe. That's because if you stand in the right...
January 28, 2004

1) echo ' | '; if($i == $paginate_current_page) { echo sprintf(" %d ", $i); } else { echo " %d ', $i) . ''; } } ?>
california dreamin'
Rest In Peace
Fork Hook
100m Travelator
The Neverending Poem of the Internet
Souvenir Empire
Swimming Pools
Snack Sculptures