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Design Icon: The Coca-Cola Bottle

by Maxwell Tielman


Design: The Coca-Cola Bottle, also known as “The Contour Bottle”

Designer: Earl R. Dean (1890-1972) of the Root Glass Company

Date: 1915

Country of Origin: United States

Manufacturer: The Coca-Cola Company

Materials: Molded glass

Background: In an effort to create a bottle design that would set them apart from their competitors, the Coca-Cola company launched a bottle-design competition in 1915 and put a call out amongst its many bottle suppliers. The goal was to create a design that was emblematic of the brand and so iconic that it could be distinguished even by touch in the dark. The winning design came from Earl R. Dean of the Root Glass Company in Indiana. His contour bottle design is believed to have been inspired by the soda’s two ingredients—the coco leaf and the kola nut. Dean was unable to find source images for either of these ingredients, however, and settled on an illustration of a cocoa pod that he found in The Encyclopedia Britannica to guide his final design. Today, the Coca-Cola bottle is one of the most instantly recognizable designs throughout the entire world. It has become so emblematic of the famed soft drink that the bottle’s image is often integrated into the company’s can designs and branding designs.

Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg.

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