Helen Friel’s “Hoakes & Co” Paper Sculptures

by Maxwell Tielman


Although we typically run objects of a more functional nature here, from time to time something on the opposite end of the design spectrum enters our inbox that is too fun to let go. These clever gag sculptures from paper artist Helen Friel are a wonderful example. Manufactured by the fictitious company Hoakes & Co and designed to look like packaging for physical manifestations of proverbs and sayings, this line of products contains everything from “Midnight Oil” to “40 Winks.” After spending a few weeks helping to renovate my new house, I know that I, for one, would love to get my hand on Hoakes & Co’s can of Elbow Grease! I could use it!

According to Friel, Hoakes & Co has a long and storied history:

Having first achieved notoriety for their revolutionary powdered water during WWII, Hoakes & Co went on to become the world’s largest supplier of tartan paint, sky hooks and glass hammers. 

The company’s factory has remained locked since Hoakes & Co’s mysterious closure in 1953 but now, 50 years on, recent developments mean that their products can be enjoyed by connoisseurs of curiosity worldwide. 

Although Hoakes & Co’s classic packaging design has survived half a century out of the spotlight, for various Health and Safety reasons, the contents have been destroyed. Some, like the Bermuda Triangles were simply deemed to costly for the Met’s missing persons unit to be reintroduced but their classic packaging is finally back on British shelves. Give a layabout friend a tin of Elbow Grease or your favourite work-o-holic a can of Midnight Oil.


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