Han Gao’s packaging design for Yours Truly is “like sitting in a Zen garden with a peaceful mindset”
The designer’s minimal aesthetic for the female-focused traditional Chinese medicine brand defies packaging trends in favour of a pared-back approach.
- Lucy Bourton
- 15 October 2021
When creative director Han Gao begins working with a client, his approach is to be quiet. Rather than shouting about new ideas or displaying reels of references “it’s always started with listening,” he tells It’s Nice That, “listening for their story, their intention, their imagination.” However Han is also looking for a problem to solve, the reason why they’ve called the designer in the first place; “the crux of their specific issue,” as he puts it. “It is like the process of therapy. They come to me and I will listen, I will orient, I will react.”
One of the latest clients who has experienced Han’s creative therapy is Yours Truly, a traditional Chinese medicine brand promoting wellness for women. Combining the “traditional vision of Chinese healthy ingredient legacy” with a modern context to “propose a well-being lifestyle,” Yours Truly is a female-focused product that aims to “activate the energy with an honest heart,” Han describes. “When they reached out to me with this idea, I was immediately convinced. Partially because they have such a good name, but also [because] I really believe in a balanced lifestyle with a little help of a partner like them.” Following conversations with the brand, Han’s keywords became a variation of descriptions leading the designer down a route of a “minimal, feminine, oriental aesthetic.”
As a result, Han’s vision for Yours Truly is beautifully simplistic. Across the packaging there is only ever the combination of two shades of the same colour, moving across the product line from light mint green to shades of pink. Information is then kept to a minimum, listing ingredients and health benefits. A purposeful decision derived “from the core of the brand’s philosophy,” Han was also keen to create an antidote to the “information-overloaded time” we live in, where “everyday life becomes stressful and the inner energy is blinded.” Each creative choice was therefore carefully selected with “a simple wish to purify the core value and the message the brand wants to deliver,” and “remove the burden of stress,” he says. “Looking at the product will be like sitting in a Zen garden with a peaceful mindset.”
Distilling information in this way is no easy task for a designer though. Han admits that one struggle was striking a balance between ensuring all information is there to pique the interest of a customer, but with a minimal design aesthetic that shouldn’t “catch too much attention,” he notes.
Yet such restrictions in his design system led to many of Han’s favourite aspects of Yours Truly. “One thing I love about the design is that it only uses the top left part of the [packaging] area to express the idea, instead of the whole area. Not only does it give people a sense of space but it’s also very quiet, humble and modest.” This level of thought is also obvious when a viewer looks closely at Han’s design where you’ll notice an oriental pattern embossed on the packaging to create a purposefully nuanced texture – “to satisfy through a single touch.”
Utilising such a pared-back aesthetic also means Yours Truly offers a breath of fresh air in a branding sense. As Han points out: “Compared to the present design visual context that everyone is using (such as big type, colourful palettes or full-bleed – I would rather use only a part of the area to express.” In turn, Han believes in this approach to packaging design “so much that I won’t limit a particular way of how the work speaks to the audiences,” he says. “I think the audience will know when they look at it, touch it, eat it, embrace it and live with it in a really nuanced, quiet way – like whispering,” the designer concludes. “Just like when you write down ‘yours truly’ when you finish a letter with the best wishes.”
GalleryHan Gao: Yours Truly (Copyright © Han Gao, 2021)
Han Gao: Yours Truly (Copyright © Han Gao, 2021)
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.