Page 54 - Packaging News Magazine Jan-Feb 2019
P. 54

Of creativity and craftmanship
‘Visual elegance’ captures the essence of creative design legend Annette Harcus and her four-decade strong body of work. Lindy Hughson caught up with her shortly after she was inducted into the AGDA Hall of Fame in late 2018.
ENTERING the Surry Hills premis- es of Harcus Design, I am immediately struck by the per- vasive air of creativity in the studio emanating in large part from the beautiful packaging on shelf displays and in various
stages of construction on worktops. And it doesn’t take more than a few minutes of conversation to confirm that the primary source of this in- ventive energy is my interview sub- ject, the celebrated Annette Harcus.
At the Australian Graphic Design Awards (AGDA) Hall of Fame In- duction in November last year, the tribute to Harcus recognised her many achievements, noting that “for nearly 40 years she has created outstanding design across many disciplines, and her distinctive work is admired internationally, honoured by awards and featured in many publications”.
Harcus is clearly tickled by the honour bestowed upon her, and when I congratulate her she points out she is one of only three women ever to have received the award. It’s a matter close to her heart. She has long been a committed champion for the design profession and, as one of a very small number of female owners
of design studios in Australia, she takes a strong position on encouraging women’s career devel- opment in the graphic design world. One of the most rewarding aspects of her career, Harcus says, has been to mentor designers – particularly young women, some of whom after some years in her studio have gone on to establish their own businesses.
Turning her attention to Harcus Design, she is both animated and re- laxed as we start talking about the founding and growth of her busi- ness, which she established in 1982 as a ‘multi-disciplined practice with an approach to create outcomes be- yond what were then traditional boundaries’. It’s an approach she maintains today.
ABOVE LEFT: Maine Beach Ligurian Honey: Luxurious body care.
ABOVE: Champion of design: Annette Harcus enters the AGDA Hall of Fame.
“The cross-platform possibilities available to designers and clients today makes our world non-linear and immensely exciting,” she says.
Her insightful anecdotes about the evolving work for her clients – many of which have been with her since her first decade in business – reflect how she sees herself as the custodian of their brands, and a col- laborator constantly on the lookout for ways to grow and push the design approach and craftmanship, whether it be engaging new technol- ogy, a different printing finish, or a fresh strategy.
While Harcus has an impressive range of design across her portfo- lio – including the rebranding of the ABC in 2001 – it’s her work in luxury packaging that has brought me to her studio. She has built an enviable reputation in this pack- aging genre, notably with wine and spirits clients like Yalumba, Ninth Island and Australia’s First Families of Wine, and also in the beauty space with Maine Beach and other brand owners.
Poring over exquisitely crafted cosmetics packaging and wine label samples, it’s easy for me to see why the work is lauded for its contempo-
January-February 2019
Consumers want to know where their products hail from; brand owners want to share the often rich history and heritage that the product’s provenance embodies.”

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