The iconic Coke Cola “Contour” bottle design is 100 years old this year.
On April 26, 1915, the Trustees of the Coca-Cola Bottling Association voted to spend up to $500 to develop a distinctive bottle for Coca-Cola.
The Root Glass Company of Indiana the design team of C.J and William Root, shop Forman Alexander Samuelson, Earl Dean and Clyde Edwards were given a brief to develop a “bottle so distinct that you would recognize it by feel in the dark or when lying broken on the ground.” Samuelsson, sent Dean and Edwards to the local library to research design possibilities. Inspired by an illustration of a cocoa bean Dean sketched the curved and ribbed bottle shape under Samuelsson’s direction.
The Root Glass Company patented the design without the embossed Coca-Cola lettering to keep secret the designs application and Coca-Cola Company entered into an agreement with glass companies across the U.S. to manufacture the bottle. The name of the city placing each bottle order was embossed on the bottom of the bottle – for decades kids compared whose bottle came from furthest away.
Many people have mistakenly attributed the Contour design to Industrial Designer Raymond Loewy. Lowey was however part of a team that created the King Size and Family Size bottle variants in 1955 and created many other designs for the Coke Cola including the original Fanta bottle.
Loewy did share his thoughts on the Contour bottle; “The Coke Bottle is a masterpiece of scientific, functional planning. In simpler terms, I would describe the bottle as well thought out, logical, sparing of material and pleasant to look at. The most perfect ‘fluid wrapper’ of the day and one of the classics in packaging history.”
When all you have as a product is a name and a flavour well design packaging is a bonus.
Note: Coke bottle styling is a term used to refer to a car body form that bears a resemblance the Contour bottle profile – cars with outward curving wings with a narrow center – like a 60’s – 70’s Corvette Stringray.