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Almost Genius

Just In Time For The Holidays, Presents Covered In Viruses

A charity project for the homeless sells snowflake wrapping paper. The twist? That snowflake is influenza.

Just In Time For The Holidays, Presents Covered In Viruses

What do you want for the holidays? If you said "presents coated in pneumonia and influenza," have we got the wrapping paper for you.

The brainchild of London creative agency WCRS, The Wrap-Up Project was created to raise awareness of the homeless in the U.K., while simultaneously supporting the work of St. Mungo's, the U.K.'s largest homelessness charity. How? By selling "snowflake" patterned wrapping paper, where what appear to be ice crystals are actually microscopic views of the viruses causing influenza, the common cold, and pneumonia. One sheet costs £2.95, a set of three cost £8, five are available for £12.50 and 10 for £24, with most of the proceeds going to support the homeless.

Here's how MCRS explains the mission of the Wrap-Up Project the official site:

We believe that everyone should have a decent place to live, something meaningful to do, and enjoy good health.

When the temperature drops, homeless people become particularly vulnerable. The snowflake patterns in our wrapping paper designs depict the common cold, influenza and pneumonia—all ailments which pose serious risk to those living rough on our streets.

On a microscopic level, viruses tend to favor helical and icosahedral forms that look similar to the crystalline structures we expect from snowflakes, so visually, the paper sold by the Wrap-Up Project looks identical to most holiday wrapping paper. That's very clever visual design. But perhaps it's the message behind the design that needed to be thought through a bit more.

Despite the designer's good intentions, is selling paper covered in the viruses and diseases that are currently plaguing the homeless the best way to raise awareness of their plight? When so many already callously associate homelessness with dirt and disease, does it make sense to draw a connection between society's disenfranchised and these virulent micro-organisms?

Even still, The Wrap-Up Project has its heart in the right place. If you'd like to support the homeless and get some wrapping paper at the same time, go here. Just don't overthink it as much as we did.