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FOOD—In-Depth

Bottega Louie's Summer Limited Edition Poppy Box

by Theresa Christine Johnson on 09/08/2016 | 4 Minute Read

For mouthwatering, airy, flavorful macarons, Paris always comes to mind. But pastries from The City of Light actually exist right here in Los Angeles at Bottega Louie, a restaurant, gourmet market, patisserie, and café in the heart of downtown. We’ve spoken before with Erica Gibson about her work, and she has recently stepped into the role of Senior Art Director and introduced Art Director Mary Smudde to the team. For their seasonal macaron boxes Smudde incorporated the beautiful whimsy of poppies, and we spoke with her about inspiration and the design process.


The poppy packaging is seasonal. How did you work to create something that would fall in line with the Bottega brand but also shine on its own?

We really love surprising our guests with limited edition boxes so we try not to impose too many restrictions when designing them. We love bright, eye-catching designs that can stand on their own. BL had launched a line of single piece chocolates in the fall of 2015 that featured a bright, warm red and we wanted to continue that vibrant color in this new packaging. We had talked about the possibility of butterflies and flowers for this box because it felt seasonally appropriate and was a direction we hadn’t executed before.

When you first took on the project, what was your big vision for it? Explain to us the process of bringing that to life.

The design came about very organically; we were exploring a bunch of fun patterns and this was the strongest. We moved very quickly after selecting the direction into refining the design. Aside from that, as with most creative projects, it started with a few conversations and a variety of references from to Instagram screenshots and Japanese patterns to high-end fashion lines.

Why did you decide on poppies and how did you choose the illustration style for the boxes?

Fashion is a huge inspiration. We started designing this box in January when pre-spring lines were previewing illustrative florals in rich, contrasting patterns. Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney, Gucci, and Kenzo were inspirations, to name a few. I had started with illustrating a beautiful Helleborus odorus flower, but it was overly delicate and an obvious design for a Bottega Louie summer macaron box. The poppy illustration started with more detail and tonal variation but through the editing process, the design started to felt more contemporary as it moved away from literal and became more and more abstracted. Marimekko is an excellent reference of how to really nail simplicity in patterns. 

What was your biggest challenge you encountered when creating the poppy packaging and how did you overcome it?

Selecting the right vendor and getting the colors correct is always the biggest challenge in packaging. We sampled this box with three different vendors and picked the one who really nailed the colors in the sample. After that, there were very little surprises. Packaging (and pastries) are Bottega Louie’s bread and butter so I leveraged the knowledge of my seasoned team members and the process went very smoothly. A custom macaron box in three months? Business as usual for us.

How do the elements of the packaging design get incorporated into the bakery and restaurant (like window displays)?

Our Visual Merchandising team is fantastic at translating printed concepts into three-dimensional wonderlands. We knew right away we wanted large-scale flowers in the market. The team experimented with a variety of materials until finding the right process, which included heat-molding foam petals and hand-bending industrial pipe to create the large-scale poppies. 

There are some elements we incorporate in all of our window displays, the benefit being these are elements you can actually buy, like our croquembouche (macaron trees) and towers made out of our pastry boxes, so the rest comes down to color schemes and composition.

I think we’re all really in love with how this summer window display turned out, the Bottega Louie market is like walking through an oversized garden filled with pastries, chocolates, and macarons.

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