What is unique about haptic design? It’s engaging, creates connection and is a first step towards intimacy. Touch was interactive long before machines commandeered the word, and it enables us to become one with the tangible—something sorely needed in an era defined by digitalization and the dawn of AI. Formes de Luxe investigates how texture is making a deeper connection to the consumer in luxury packaging.
Raw materials take center stage
Ruinart x Eva Jospin
Each year, Ruinart gives an artist carte blanche to express their vision of the brand and its history. Last March, the limited-edition coffret designed for Ruinart’s 2023 vintage was revealed during a monumental installation (Promenade(s) en Champagne): 25 numbered pieces, each hand-signed by artist Eva Jospin, containing an exceptional batch of Blanc de blanc, aged in Jeroboam bottles.
When opened, the wood coffret, encircled by two strips of smooth leather, reveals a rough-to-the-touch landscape of chalk quarries chiselled from layers of raw, corrugated cardboard, Jospin’s material of choice. The bottle, enhanced with micro-engraving (fragments of forests inspired by Jospin’s world), nestles within this decor hewn from rough edges and lacey honeycomb hollows.
The limited-edition coffret was revealed during a monumental installation (Promenade(s) en Champagne) ©Ruinart
Almatura by Irübi
Labels are a rich area for expression. They are crafted by hand from a combination of recycled paper, leaves, and seeds from crops grown in association with the Almatura vineyard. Hand applied, they are smooth, but also grainy, granulose—both velvety and fibrous, with something slightly yielding revealed by pronounced blind embossing. Then there’s the roughness of natural hemp cord, also knotted by hand. And finally, the ribbed surface of a banana leaf covering a beeswax capsule. For Almatura’s small-batch wines, the Spanish studio IRÜBI married form and function with texture(s). Almatura cultivates its wine using traditional methods inspired by permaculture and biodynamic techniques.
The label is made with a combination of recycled paper, leaves, and seeds from crops ©Almatura
Backbone for Nine Architects
Backbone (Armenia) has orchestrated a spectacular example of haptic design with the creation of a private vintage for the studio Nine Architects. The subject— architecture—lent itself to the task, but that was only the starting point. The studio took a bottle silk-screened with dimension lines (Saranist) and added two geometric pieces that together form a “9”—the studio’s signature number. A metaphor for architectural structure, the elements are made of raw, molded concrete with a rugged texture that contrasts with the bottle’s cylindrical glow. Beyond being decorative, they provide a practical way to position the bottle horizontally.
The geometric pieces are made of raw, molded concrete with a rugged texture ©Nine Architects
Glass takes on a second skin
Empreinte Animale by Lalique
Lalique has made another tribute to all that is wild with the launch of the Empreinte Animale collection. Produced in a series of 500 numbered pieces, the bottle’s crocodileskin crystal calls to be touched. Topped with a faceted emerald green stopper embellished with gold baudruchage, the body of the bottle was scrupulously engraved, scale by scale, before being enhanced with gold enamel. The reliefs sculpted in the material—satiny, polished, blunt, or sharp—are meant to mimic the animal’s skin. The edition is presented in a cloth-lined wood coffret, with a lid bearing the same tactile patterns as are etched on the bottle.
The flacon is engraved, scale by scale, before being enhanced with gold enamel ©Lalique
Avyun by Backbone
Backbone created a UV-printed vine leaf to be the central element of the minimalist decoration the agency developed for the young wine brand Avyun. It is enhanced with strong tone-on-tone embossing and vivified by veins pulsing with the sap of the earth. Each of the three bottles in the line represents a step in the wine aging process, as well as the degree of alcohol within. Once again, bold textures invite the hand to linger on reliefs that enliven the matte bottle’s all-over, soft-touch lacquer finish.
Each of the three bottles in the line represents a step in the wine aging process, as well as the degree of alcohol within ©Avyun
Ada by SeriesNemo
For the organic gin Ada, the agency SeriesNemo (Spain) selected a model from Estal’s Wildly Crafted collection. Made from PCR glass, it offers a distinctly craft feel. Small bubbles and fine scratches inherent to the material call out to be touched, while screen-printed ferns with finely textured reliefs create a trompe-l’oeil effect. The labels, embossed on cotton paper from Raflatack, are applied in relation to the leaves in order to create unique combinations.
The bottle is made from PCR glass ©Ada
The beauty of contrast
Oddity by Oddity
Both a niche perfume brand and a design studio, Oddity (Hong Kong) describes itself as a creative collective. Their signature: bottles conceived as unique objects. Each cap is handcrafted from fragments of wood (for Naked Dance), pieces of charred bamboo (Dead Air), and shards of bismuth (Résonant). These materials are partially encapsulated in epoxy resin to allow to experiment with their random textures. The box design follows the same principles: Naked comes in a powdery, velvety, almost creamy feeling box that combines a Carvetian Suede from James Cropper with a Carapace Remake Pack from Antalis (incorporating leather residue, among other things); Dead Air was given a box with a coarse, dry touch, discreetly rough, made from Refit Wool Black (15% wool residue) and Curious Alchemy, two references from Antalis; and, finally, Resonant is presented in a box with an ultra-smooth, ultra-shiny effect (Mirror card and Tranditional Japanese from Neenah).
The materials used are partially encapsulated in epoxy resin to allow to experiment with their random textures ©Oddity
Shark Lock by Givenchy
Givenchy’s cult Shark Lock boots, revisited by Matthew M. Williams, made a comeback last automn. For the occasion, Givenchy invited a circle of VIP customers to a private sale where the iconic shoes were presented in selected finishes. Crocodile, snake, grained o smooth leather: the invitation (Imprimerie du Marais) reproduced the boutique selection in what amounted to a feat of paper marquetry featuring fine embossing for matte textures and bright, varnished silkscreen reliefs for glossy textures. Four-color offset and direct-tone printing were used to faithfully reproduce the custom color palette. Laminated and embellished with a gold edge, the invitation was printed on two separate papers: Natural Evolution (Antalis) for the front and Old Mill Premium White (Fedrigoni) for the back. The card was slipped into an ultra-mat, black cardstock envelope (Pop’Set Extra Black/ Antalis) gilded with Givenchy’s coat of arms and sealed with the emblematic 4G padlock.
The envelope is gilded with Givenchy’s coat of arms and sealed with the emblematic 4G padlock ©Givenchy
Le mat by Monorik
Seashell, Rosebud, Baked…: the new lipstick brand Monorik declares its preference for matte textures in five shade. Each one is associated with a unique weaving method: tight or loose, coarse or refined—a tactile way of transcribing the feeling of a color and a perfect illustration of haptic design’s discreet charm.
Each matte shade is associated with a unique weaving method ©Monorik
Hot & Cold: variations on a theme
Highland Park by John Galvin & Michael Rudak
Cold like glass, warm like wood; smooth inside and whipped by the elements outside: this box and decanter set was co-created by Scottish woodworker John Galvin and English designer Michael Rudak (Stoelzle Flaconnage). There could be no better choice of designers, given that it was intended to house an exceptional 54-year-old, single malt—launched to celebrate the Highland Park distillery’s 225th anniversary, which it celebrated earlier this year. The edition is limited to 225 pieces (C.Q.F.D.) and each oak coffret, with doors that open like wings, was hand crafted, polished, and sanded, before passing through a fuming chamber to create tonal differences in the wood. When opened, it reveals the old red sandstone rocks, weathered by erosion, for which the Yesnaby cliffs are famed. The hand decorated and polished decanter has a texture reminiscent of the rock formations that characterize the Orkney islands. Molded in the glass itself, they are meant to evoke the surge of lava that formed the archipelago.
Each oak coffret, with doors that open like wings, was hand crafted, polished, and sanded ©Highland Park
Off-White x Ibrahim Kamara x Basile Fournier
Off-White, Ibrahim Kamara and Basile Fournier designed a jewel-like invitation for the Lunar Delivery show (Fall-Winter 2023 Fashion Week). Creation was entrusted to the Imprimerie du Marais, where the box was lined with a felt-marked fine paper by Fedrigoni (Old Mill in Premium White). The immaculate lid is restful on the eyes—and tempting to touch—and features the brand name in simple tone-on-tone embossing. Tactile design needs no explanation—color and text are superfluous. When opened, the case reveals a signed jewel set in an insert textured to evoke the craters of the moon: the ultra-matte appearance of Antalis’ Curious Matter Ibizenca Sand, with its sandy-silk feel, is embossed with wrinkles and fissures of varying depths, revealing a satin finish in the stamped areas that provides different haptic sensations. These details contrast with the rough’n’tough character of the ready-to-mail envelope (KraftPak).
When opened, the case reveals a signed jewel set ©Off-White
Balmain x Adulte Adulte
Matte seems to reign supreme in terms of graphic aesthetics these days. So the agency Adulte Adulte seems all the more daring for having created a bold, ultraglossy invitation for Balmain for the Spring-Summer 2022 collections. The invitation—in black and white—was produced by Imprimerie du Marais on Fedrigoni high-gloss, chrome-coated paper (Splendorlux Nero and Splendorlux Bilucido White). In varnished latex, it recreated the skilfully draped fabric that marked the “Balmain Festival V02.” No additional layer of varnish was needed. Inside the paper creation, multi-level embossing created pleasing folds and curves, hollows and reliefs that appear more real than life, astonishing to hand and eye.