String Theory: Can You Design Tampon Packaging That Doesn’t Suck?


The feminine hygiene industry likes to think that it’s come pretty far in the past few years, and in a way it has. Used to be, you couldn’t buy a box of tampons that wasn’t plastered in breezy pastels and whimsical cursive. But now, oh baby, look at the options: You can get ’em in hot pink with whimsical cursive, blue with whimsical cursive, black with whimsical cursive, and “girl holding a yoga pose on a floating tampon” with whimsical cursive. For the tampon industry, that’s progress. For the rest of us, it’s just another thing to stash away under the bathroom sink.


Needless to say, tampon packaging could be much, much better. Here to show us how is Minneapolis-based graphic designer Heda Hokschirr. Hokschirr is a senior at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and for an assignment on redesigning a commercial brand, she decided to class up tampons with a sleek black box that has simple Roman letters on the outside and black-and-white patterns on the inside.

The patterns–inspired by Moroccan bath tiles and repeated on the individual tampon wrapping–aren’t just decorative: They also represent different tampon absorbencies; the darker the pattern, the more absorbent the tampon. It’s a clever use of a simple graphical device. Besides, anything beats how Tampax et al. denote that stuff now, what with text that’s practically visible from outer space (“XXL SUPER-DUPER PLUS MAX ABSORBENCY!”).

How Hokschirr came up with idea: “I started thinking about which products I use on a daily basis, and which ones I wished had better packaging,” she tells Co.Design. “I settled on tampons when I spied an orange box decorated with swirls that was obnoxious and pastel at the same time. In my re-branding I focused on making packaging that was less whimsical, more geometric, and more elegant–packaging that I personally would like to have in my bathroom, instead of trying to find creative ways to hide.”

[Images courtesy of Heda Hokschirr; hat tip to The Dieline]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.