As countries around the world mark 100 years of a design icon – the legendary Coca-Cola bottle – some special commemorations are taking place in the birthplace of the package's original designer, Alexander Samuelsson.
Fans in Sweden can visit a new exhibition at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm until April 12.
The exhibit, titled A 100-Year-Old Designer Classic: The Swedish History of the Coca-Cola Bottle not only focuses on the innovation of the classic package and its Swedish roots, but also conveys its impact on culture and style with an accompanying collection of pop art.
The exhibition has been set up by the museum in close collaboration with Coca-Cola in Sweden and Ted Ryan, Coke's director of heritage communications. Ryan was the guest of honor in Stockholm on March 7 to open the exhibition.
Originally from Surte in Västergötland county, Samuelsson emigrated to the United States where he joined the Root Glass Company, in Terre Haute, Indiana. In 1915, just a few years after his move to the U.S, Root Glass entered a national competition set by The Coca-Cola Company to design a new bottle shape that would protect Coca-Cola from a growing army of copycat brands. The famous creative brief was to design a “bottle so distinct that you would recognize it by feel in the dark, or lying broken on the ground.”
Ted Ryan at the exhibit opening and press event.
Rising to the challenge, Samuelsson – who was then the shop foreman at Root Glass – sent two of his teammates, Earl Dean and Clyde Edwards, to the local library to research design possibilities. When they came across an illustration of a cocoa pod that had an elongated shape and distinct ribs, they had their shape. Root Glass developed the bottle idea and, under Samuelsson’s direction, produced a few sample bottles. On Nov. 16, 1915, the company’s application to patent the design was granted. Samuelsson’s name was on the document.
The following year, the bottle went into production in Terre Haute. The rest is history, with the unique shape, featuring contoured, fluid curves, becoming the world’s most successful-ever product design. Its iconic status was assured when it began to inspire some of the world’s most famous artists, musicians and designers. The surrealist Salvador Dalí used the bottle in “Poetry of America” in 1943 and the father of pop art, Andy Warhol, created his iconic Coca-Cola bottle paintings in 1962.
Sweden Celebrates in 2015
An ad campaign celebrates the Coca-Cola bottle’s connection with Sweden.
“We are very proud of our iconic bottle – it is just as important as our Coca-Cola logo. We are also very proud to celebrate the first 100 years of the bottle here in Sweden, as there is a strong connection to our country through Alexander Samuelsson,” says Eric Nilsson, brand activation manage, Coca-Cola Sweden.