AMERICAN GURU of LUXURY BRAND PACKAGE DESIGN
An Interview with LaRepublica Sorteara Magazine, Lima, Peru. Editor Renta Arana Conde
Click below to read article in Spanish and view photos
LaRepublica Sorteara 9 11 2013
RAC: Your forte is Industrial Design?
MR: Yes, but I am more dedicated to package designing, that includes marketing, industrial and graphic design.
RAC: What is more important? The shape or the contents.
MR: Both, because the shape must be the manifestation of its content. In my case, for perfume, cosmetics and skin care.
RAC: It is very curious as to the emphasis you put into the visual when it is the product that is meant to stimulate senses, as in the essence of the fragrance.
MR: My theory is that the consumer will identify with the design, just as a women purchases jewelry or other accessories.
RAC: How much impact do you place on this?
MR: A lot of it depends on the company. Usually, companies engage me because of my expertise and knowledge, companies often request that I am very involved in their consumer target studies.
RAC: Beyond this who inspires you?
MR: Constantly, I am always look at things from a design point of view. If I am walking down the street and I see a building that catches my attention, I think, this can be a good bottle shape. At the same time I review the brief the company provides, the marketing study and the competitors designs.
MR: “What you seek, between the consumer and the product is “Love at First Sight”. That is the objective, that the consumer grasps a subliminal message, that when looking at the design it says, “I want you to touch me”.”
RAC: Subliminal? Can you give me an example?
MR: Let me show you this design (Shanghai). You can see the roundness of the bottle is voluptuous. It looks heavy, you want to touch it because it has femininity in it’s shape. The next photo is the KL bottle that I created for Karl Lagerfeld.
RAC: What does it represent?
MR: A fan, because Karl Lagerfeld uses a fan, his personal trademark…..look at this (Christina Aguilera “Insire”), it is also rounded in its shape.
RAC: But it is much more slender…
MR: Yes, but it keeps the femininity.
RAC: Another important esthetic relationship: the weight and the quality.
MR: When you pick up a bottle, you have expectations of weight which connotes quality. If you have a positive perception of the packaging, you will expect that the contents are fine quality. Another subliminal message.
RAC: Your first job was at Revlon?
MR: Charles Revson (the founder) was a difficult personality, he taught me an important mantra; the Three P’s, if you have the right Package, Promotion and Product you will have success. I have been applying this philosophy throughout my entire career.
RAC: You also had a prestigious role at Elizabeth Arden and you created the packaging for “Red Door” perfume.
MR: I was 29 years old when I starting working at Elizabeth Arden. I was there for 13 years and I redesigned all the packaging for their cosmetic, skin care and fragrance lines, I gave it a fresh look and people no longer associated the line as their grandmothers.
RAC: That was Not easy?
MR: To be honest, it was teamwork and the company was not as large as they are today, it was easy to make changes….and when I designed RED DOOR for Elizabeth Arden she was as famous as her Red Door Salons, the perfume would become a part of the women who visit the salon, not the man that who would buy the fragrance as a gift……
RAC: A shout of feminine independence!
RAC: And then you meet Grace Kelly?
MR: My wife, Arlene Dahl a famous Hollywood actress was her friend. Already the Princess, she invited us to Monaco, where I noticed one could only purchase a white plate with the an image of the Royal Couple as memorabilia, it was then that I suggested to Princess Grace a porcelain collection inspired by Monaco.
RAC: What did the Princess say?
MR: She was very excited and loved the idea, we worked on the project for over a year, unfortunately it was never completed, as Princess Grace was killed in a automobile accident.
RAC: Why didn’t you continue the project?
MR: Because I needed Prince Rainier’s approval, he was not interested. It was a shame….Grace Kelly was wonderful, beautiful and it was lovely to meet her.
RAC: You have been married for 29 years to a woman who is 18 years older than you….?
MR: Looking back on that… we got married when such an age difference was very unusual, everyone said it would not work. Everyone was wrong!
RAC: The secret?
MR: See every day as an adventure! We are both creative, a designer and an actress, we have a very exciting life. It’s a very interesting relationship because through Arlene I met all the Hollywood celebrities and through me, she met a lot of fashion designers.
RAC: Mrs. Arlene is Lorenzo Llamas’ mother?
MR: Yes, he is my stepson.
RAC: How is he?
MR: We talked just before my arrival in Lima. He is very well living and working in California….We are very close.