Taking Drug Packaging to an Art Form

Nov. 4, 2005
Why is a new prescription pill bottle on exhibit in a New York gallery? Retailers like Target think it’s the next big thing in drug packaging.
Editor's Note: The following text is excerpted from the website of the School of Visual Arts.Click hereto visit the website and obtain more detailed information on the exhibit.

To read designer Michael Surtee's interview with Deborah Adler,
click here.
The School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents "ClearRx: From Master's Thesis to Medicine Cabinet"-an exhibition that follows the three-year journey from Deborah Adler's initial concept to redesign the prescription bottle and label, to the partnership with Target and the launch of ClearRx in May of 2005. The exhibition, sponsored by Target, will give a comprehensive look at the design evolution of an object that takes on such a crucial role in our everyday lives. The exhibit runs from Oct. 29 through Nov. 23, 2005, at the Westside Gallery, SVA's campus gallery in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City.Adler first had the idea to redesign the standard amber-colored prescription bottle when her grandmother accidentally swallowed pills meant for Deborah’s grandfather. Adler quickly came to the conclusion that the prescription bottle was not just unattractive, it was actually dangerous. Motivated by a desire to make people’s lives easier and safer, in 2002 she designed a comprehensive system for packaging prescription medicine as her Master’s thesis.“I wanted to design the bottle so that when you open up your medicine cabinet, you instantly know which is your drug, what the name of the drug is, and how to take it,” says Adler. The results are a redesigned prescription and communication system that includes: the redesigned bottle, easy-to-read label, removable information card, color-coded rings and redesigned warning icons.The exhibition will be divided into three sections. The first section will identify the specific problems with the amber-colored bottles, and show the initial sketches and prototypes Adler developed. The second section will outline the collaboration with Target, illustrating the modifications that were made in partnership with Target designers and pharmacy experts. The third section will display the final product, the advertising and awareness campaign that was launched by Target, as well as highlights of the media coverage received.Deborah Adler is currently a senior designer at the multi-disciplinary design firm Milton Glaser Inc. in New York City, where she works directly with the legendary Milton Glaser. In her role, Adler provides solutions to clients seeking new directions in visual communications, signage programs and brand identity. Adler earned a BFA with honors from the University of Vermont in 1997 and an MFA in Design from the School of Visual Arts in 2002.