Masters of turning the mundane cute, we recently came across this collection of the clever ways Japanese designers have extended this eccentricity down to the boring barcode. Without impeding on the necessary numbers, inventive versions transform humble skus from the usual black-and-white rectangle to graphics that range from cityscapes to waves, often relating to the product it identifies.
Barcodes grace almost every product for sale. Given how much package real estate they command, why shouldn’t they look cool?
Since 2005, D-Barcode has been creating custom barcodes for a mostly Japanese clientele. They’ve even begun selling their wares to anyone who wants to license them, starting at $1,500 for the design, and $200 a year for licensing. A custom or exclusive use code will run upwards of $4,000–but given that companies spend millions on designing a single package, why don’t we see more detailed thinking like this? Middle managers spend weeks arguing about kerning–it’d be better if they spent more time rethinking every inch of such highly prized real estate.