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Best of Behance: Happycentro

By Jenny Carless

If there were an equivalent to the Slow Food movement in the world of packaging design, Happycentro would surely be a card-carrying member. The agency’s four artists (two women and two men) look to the past for inspiration and love to use their hands—cutting, pasting, and building intricate, enchanting creations. A recent personality-driven packaging project for Sabadì’s Le Caramelle candies recently caught our eye on Behance.

“We think of ourselves more as a small workshop than an agency,” says Federico Galvani, founder and creative director of Happycentro. “And as with workshops of the past, we live close to our studio and produce everything on premises.”

Passersby can even watch the team work through two street-level windows.

Happycentro’s charming packaging for Sabadì’s Le Caramelle features six characters whose names rhyme with the flavors of the product line.  

 

HANDCRAFTED DESIGN

“Our most important tools are our hands,” Galvani says. “Of course, software and hardware can help improve, replicate, or speed up processes. But—having grown up in the 1970s in the suburbs, playing on the road, in the grass, with mud—we find that hands are the best tools to create now what we imagined then.”

The Happycentro team relies on skills developed in many ways: professional classes, classical study, degrees in architecture and design, and using their hands (with paper, ink, film for printing technologies, and camera obscura devices, for example)—as well as personal interests such as music, pottery, gardening, sewing, and cooking.

“We often start by opening old school books or manuals when beginning a new project,” Galvani says. “We love feeling this responsibility of transmitting something from the past.”

The Le Caramelle packaging designed by Happycentro is full of personality—this irresistibility is part of what made the project a “Best of Behance.”

 

He describes Happycentro’s distinguishing characteristic as “a little crazy and maverick” and says that they are deeply interested in really listening to people—“to the point that some clients would be more comfortable on a psychoanalyst’s couch,” he notes.

“The aesthetic of our work takes its origin and reaches its best expression through the processes we apply,” he adds. “We’re very curious about anything, catching the secrets behind any gesture.”

Happycentro is also passionate about detail.

“We always try to balance our push toward synthesis with the opposite effect—adding several meaningful layers, even hidden ones, for those who love diving deeper into a visual experience,” Galvani says. “And, to be honest, we hate doing the same thing twice, so we use each project as an opportunity for new creative paths.”

Happycentro has an ongoing relationship with Sabadì—the team also created the packaging for this line of nougat candies.

 

SABADÌ—LE CARAMELLE

A proponent of the Slow Food movement, Simone Sabaini from Sabadì appreciates Happycentro’s aesthetic.

One of Happycentro’s recent projects for the artisan is the packaging concept for Sabadì’s Le Caramelle. The team imagined six little imps whose names rhyme with the flavors of the product line. The brand also incorporates representation of the candies’ raw ingredients and places of origin.

“The phrase ‘Le Caramelle’ [‘the candies’] has a sweet sound in both Italian and English; it’s reminiscent of childhood and femininity,” Galvani explains. “Adding the little faces makes the candy funny, easy, friendly, and welcoming.”

In addition to the single-flavor packaging, Sabadì also asked for retro-style tins for assorted candies. On the tins, you see the characters playing with each other, just like their flavors do when tasted.

Happycentro has also created packaging for Sabadì nougats and chocolates

Happycentro created a cast of cute characters that were central to the branding concept for Le Caramelle. Click to watch them in this short video.

 

OTHER PROJECTS WE LOVE

The agency’s passion for minimalism is also on display in the artful invitation they created to encourage 200 VIPs to participate in the Nike Women’s 10k London Marathon.  

“The invitation had to speak for itself,” Galvani explains. “We decided to convey the urban context in a poetic form—working on ton sur ton paper, highlighted with just a few details using thin gold foil lines.”

Happycentro’s flair for detail is evident: The team laser-cut all the invitations, applied gold foil for architectural details and text, and delicately hand-mounted each kirigami, one by one, to its cover.

And despite their love for all things analog, Happycentro doesn’t shun technology when it’s right for a project.

Italian luxury brand Furla’s new bag Metropolis comes with several interchangeable flaps, each creating its own mood and style. To promote the bag, Happycentro created a simple stop-motion animation to illustrate the monuments and buildings of four iconic Italian cities, tying the mood and style of each to four of the bag’s flaps.

“We wanted a design that was instinctive, immediate, and pure,” Galvani says.

What does the future look like for a packaging design studio that derives so much inspiration from the past?

“For us, what’s next is in the past,” Galvani says. “We’re delighted to see a return to analog technologies, like letterpress printing. While everything is running, sometimes blindly, toward no-matter-what innovation, being able to recover a unique, unrepeatable gesture is fascinating to us.”

Clients seem to agree: Happycentro’s “slow packaging” movement is clearly a big hit.