The delightful history of fruit stickers, the world’s tiniest canvases for graphic design - Deepstash
The delightful history of fruit stickers, the world’s tiniest canvases for graphic design

The delightful history of fruit stickers, the world’s tiniest canvases for graphic design

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The World's tiniest Canvas for graphic designing

The World's tiniest Canvas for graphic designing

Since Spain started exporting oranges and other citrus fruit at the turn of the 20th century, it has developed a robust infrastructure producing fruit stickers, paper wrappers, and custom-printed fruit crates.

These little gems of graphic design are now the subject of a new exhibition in Madrid. Featuring more than 300 Spanish brands, the aptly named Frutas de Diseño (Design Fruits) shines a light on the colorful history of fruit branding in Spain from the 1950s onward and the wild variety of graphics that have been used to market fruits there and abroad.


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History of Branding

History of Branding

The use of branding on Spanish produce dates back to the country’s golden age of citrus exporting in the 1920s and 1930s. “They realized if they exported oranges with a name, they would sell more,” says Leandro Lattes, the creative director of Spanish design studio El Vivero, which curated the exhibition.

Valencia oranges are famous around the world today, but when the export was booming, having a name like “Infinita” or “La Soculente” (The Succulent) helped businesses, often small family-run affairs, stand out from the crowd.


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Noteworthy Designs

Noteworthy Designs

brands would hire artists to draw elaborate illustrations on the protective wrappers and sometimes even sign them. (After oranges were coated in wax to reduce spoiling, he says paper wrappers became all about the marketing.) To this day, some “Soculente” oranges come in a striking paper wrapper that portrays a slender hand complete with red nail polish and a sparkling ring holding half an orange over a juicer.


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Typography and Colors

Typography and Colors

After World War II, the intricate illustrations gave way to more abstract graphics that made use of typography and striking colors. In recent years, some companies have continued to update their brand identity.

The 1960s brand Filosófo, for example, once sported a paper wrapper with concentric circles, illustrated stars, and a serif typeface. Today, it features a more contemporary typeface and a pristine, watercolor-like rendition of oranges adorned with blossoms; the stickers are shaped like leaves).


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The Future

Over the past few years, some companies have been experimenting with lasers, etching numbers, and brand names on the skin on the actual fruit. While in its early days, the practice might gain steam in countries like France, which banned disposable plastic packaging and produce stickers across 30 fruits and vegetables in January. (According to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports, the ban may threaten the United States’ exports thereof stickered sweet potatoes and grapefruits, which together amount to $28 million in annual sales.)


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