"The Coke Bottle is...well thought out, logical, sparing of material and pleasant to look at. The most perfect fluid wrapper
of the day and one of the classics in packaging history."
Raymond Loewy, June 22nd 1971
The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100 explores the iconic design and creative legacy of the Coca-Cola bottle. Presented on the occasion of the bottle's centennial, the exhibition features more than 100 objects, including more than 15 works of art by Andy Warhol and more than 40 photographs inspired by or featuring the bottle. Visitors will have the opportunity to view original design illustrations, historical artifacts and a century of experimentation with the Coca-Cola bottle, which has enticed multiple generations and billions of people worldwide and inspired numerous artists since its inception in 1915. Photographers such as Walker Evans and William Christenberry documented the Coca-Cola bottle's universal presence in the cultural landscape of 20th century America. The Coca-Cola bottle also helped spur Warhol's pioneering shift to his breakthrough pop art style.
Organized by the High in collaboration with The Coca-Cola Company, the exhibition will be presented in two floors of the High's Anne Cox Chambers wing. As visitors enter the exhibition gallery in the first-floor lobby, they will encounter more than 500 contemporary 3-D printed bottles suspended from the ceiling that reference the Coca-Cola bottle's iconic design. The second floor displays will feature three main areas: a section focused on the design history of the bottle, a pop art section with more than 15 works by Warhol, and a photography section including works from the High's permanent collection.
"A bottle which a person could recognize even if they felt it in the dark, and so shaped that, even if broken, a person
could tell at a glance what it was."
Design Brief, The Coca-Cola Company, 1915
A century ago, in the small town of Terre Haute, Indiana, the Coca-Cola contour bottle was born. The rise of copycat brands led the already successful
Coca-Cola Company to seek out a new, exclusive package that would help consumers unmistakably identify the genuine Coca-Cola product. By 1915,
Coca-Cola sent out a call to a handful of bottle manufacturers to develop a new and distinct bottle design.
The employees of the Root Glass Company ultimately conceived of a design that perfectly answered the Coca-Cola Company's original brief calling for a bottle recognizable even when broken or felt in the dark. The designers drew inspiration from what they believed to be the product's ingredients, and incorporated the ribbed, bulbous shape of the cocoa pod into the original bottle design. The bottle was patented on November 16, 1915 and The Root Glass Company was awarded the design contract soon after.
Over the last 100 years the Coca-Cola bottle has maintained its signature shape. Through changes in technology and materials, from the first experiments with a plastic bottle in the late 1960s to the first aluminum version of the bottle in 2005, the contour shape has remained the iconic symbol of the brand.
In the lobby of the exhibition, an installation based on a work created by design studio Conran and Partners offers an immersive experience with the famous form of the Coca-Cola bottle. Over eight hundred 3D-printed bottles hang from the ceiling. The team at Conran and Partners used 3D printing technology to create a deconstructed, ribbon-shaped interpretation of the bottle. This was in response to an initiative launched by Coca-Cola in 2014 to commemorate the last one hundred years of the bottle's design and imagine its developments in the coming century.