As long as the fundamental vertical lines function properly, there are no real limits to what an artist can design around a standard bar code – as these real-and-working scabable images illustrate in stark black, white and monotone color. Printing is rarely a problem and scanning is simple, so why do we not see these on every product?
D-Barcode is a Japanese firm of designers who specialize in one thing: creative bar codes for companies and products. Working from the inside out, the scanner-friendly portion is kept intact but the sky is the limit after that. Some of their unique designs involve abstract 2D patterns or integrated logos. Others render 3D scenes in black and white or elemental colors, often blurring the visual boundary between product, package and bar code.
In a few of their best portfolio examples, the core lined area becomes more than a backdrop or solid object within the graphic or scene – an umbrella catching drops of vertical rain or tall black buildings in an urban city scene. All of this begs the obvious question: if this is physically possible and not too technologically challenging, why don’t more people integrate these into everyday packaging?
From Fast Company:
“Barcodes grace almost every product for sale. Given how much package real estate they command, why shouldn’t they look cool?””
Since 2005, D-Barcode has been creating custom barcodes for a mostly Japanese clientele. They’ve even begun selling their wares to anyone who wants to license them, starting at $1,500 for the design, and $200 a year for licensing. A custom or exclusive use code will run upwards of $4,000–but given that companies spend millions on designing a single package, why don’t we see more detailed thinking like this? Middle managers spend weeks arguing about kerning–it’d be better if they spent more time rethinking every inch of such highly prized real estate.”