Christmas in Bologna

Illustrator Malika Favre and design agency Irving & Co have created some lovely festive packaging for Italian food chain Carluccio’s, inspired by Bolognan architecture.

Illustrator Malika Favre and design agency Irving & Co have created some lovely festive packaging for Italian food chain Carluccio’s, inspired by Bolognan architecture.

The design for Carluccio’s Christmas range is based on a different Italian city each year. Favre was asked to visit Bologna with Irving & Co designer Ana Rachel and has designed a series of bold geometric patterns featuring hidden characters and narratives. Her work will also appear in Carluccio’s store windows, where boxes will be stacked to create ‘an abstract city’.

Favre was approached by the brand and Irving & Co after staging a solo exhibition, Hide and Seek, at London’s Kemistry Gallery (more info here). “They felt that my minimalist yet narrative approach to architectural patterns was in line with their vision for this year’s Christmas array,” she explains.

“The challenge for me was to extract the core of the architecture around me without being too literal. What really struck me in Bologna was the light and contrast it created, so I decided to focus on the shadows that the architecture was casting rather than the elements themselves. I then added little narrative elements in order to create some depth and tell a story on each box. The characters and objects were carefully placed somewhere around the boxes to bring depth,” she says.


Lettering on this year’s Christmas range was inspired by signage, menus and typography in Bologna, which Rachel sketched and photographed during the trip. It works well alongside Favre’s illustrations. “The typographic heritage in Bologna was so rich and diverse that it felt a shame not to keep that diversity for the Christmas range,” Rachel says.

To contrast Carluccio’s red and gold colour palette, Favre also used aubergine, cream and orange. “These three colours were inspired by real buildings. We based them on a painting swatch Ana and I found in a small shop while in Bologna. I felt it was important to have bold and sophisticated colours in the palette, in order to create contrast and reflect the incredible light and sharp shadows that are so characteristic of the city,” she explains.

It’s a little early to think about Christmas shopping – although retailers would certainly disagree – but Favre’s packaging has left us feeling quite festive, despite the fact it’s only October. If only all gifts came in such pretty packages…

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