A reflection of two areas I have come across which offer the amazingly limbic pleasures of taking apart packaging. A third would be, of course, perfume.
|tsutsumi tea whisk|
Tsutsumi is the Japanese art of gift wrapping with paper, historically more recent than furoshiki, which is wrapping with cloth. Given the centuries of culture we're talking here, both are, to use a simple word, old.
The cellophane wrapping on a package of cigarettes? Less than a hundred years.
I'm still trying to chase down the historical evolution of perfume packaging...not bottle design, but how the bottle is presented. Especially the introduction of cello wrap. Cellophane, invented in 1908. Used for wrapping the perfume box? Not sure.
Tactile and psychological pleasure from all? Immeasurable.
As Tilda might say...like this:
Pick up the package. Sniff, just to see if there is product odor. Generally, no. Already noticing the smooth, sometimes slippery outer protective layer. Depending on material and tightness of wrapping, perhaps an element of crinkle, both tactile and auditory. If there is that element, an indulgence in a bit of rubbing, to feel/hear the crinkle again. Think of skin slipping, just a little bit. Wondering how much pressure it would take to break the seal.
If you are a careful present opener, you don't dare cross the line. Because you are next headed to either end of the package, where the folded over ends of the outer layer meet, and are either glued or sticker sealed. (Or both.) A careful teasing apart of the flaps. If all goes well, you are going to have an intact outer layer, like a complete cicada shell.
Or, if you are feeling wanton, a release of ripping and joyful noise.
Either way, you are now at the box. And have another choice point.
I must interrupt here. Because if it is a pack of cigarettes, you have either the challenge of a foil seal or a flip top box and THEN a foil overlayer. If it is perfume, you either have another glued box, or a flap-in flip open top, or a specially presentation box. (Special presentations are often top-lift-off-the base types, but can have intricate fold outs, or a combination thereof, like that bottle of Niki de Saint Phalle in parfum.)
Either product, whatever way, means you are now to the heart of the matter. And it is from here on out that you WILL be careful. You WILL choose to preserve and protect the shell. Because, in your heart, even if it is a simple box that you break down and put in a shoe box of other broken down boxes and don't see again because the bottle is going somewhere probably protected but definitely where storage space is at a premium and therefore the box is baggage, even if so, you have a hard time throwing away the box. At least right away. And maybe forever.
What do I know from cigarettes? Other than that pack I shared with Ava and Maggie back in our youth, which we kept sealed in a plastic bag and hid in a niche in the alley? And lasted for weeks, maybe months? Because we smoked it one shared cigarette at a time, only on days when we could all get to the tree?
Well, I know that my father smoked. Plenty. And my reward for running to the corner store and buying him a pack (or two, but never more than two at a time) was being given permission to open it. I loved the crinkle...the peel...the careful dissembly of the foil so that ONLY that portion of the top on one side of the label across the middle would be revealed, and you could do that cool "tap tap" and shake out one cigarette, just one, kind of like and advanced move when dealing cards.
In Tsutsumi, the unwrapping has a somewhat different dynamic, but is also intricate. The folding has been deliberate, and so will be the unfolding. There are layers within layers, and often packaging inside packaging. The texture of the paper, the sometimes representative shapes, the origami elements...makes the unwrapping a very mindful moment.
If you aren't the type who tears off the wrapping and rips apart a box to get at the contents.
I have been slowly getting to the heart of my treasures from Paris. I am being mindful of their origin, my memories of where they came from, the salespeople, the lighting in the store, the testing process (if there was one). But I must confess, while the Paris packages are extra special, my undoing of them is not more mindful.
The mindfulness just yields a different, somewhat deeper scope of treasure.
I don't smoke. Never have, except for that one shared pack in my two months of wanton youth. Okay, and another pack equivalent of singles bummed off smokers during a certain year of semi-clubbing. But cigarette smoke has always led to headaches and nausea and it was never really the tobacco that was ever appealing.
It was the process.
Could there be some connection between that and the fact that the only place I've ever enjoyed tobacco is in perfume?
Along with, perhaps, the shared joy of cello wrap led undressing?
Photograph of tea whisk from the Kansai Window : Essence of Japan website.
History of Golden Belt Manufacturing, responsible for packaging Bull Durham (the tobacco, not the movie), here.