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Shiseido Honored at Gala

The event generated $300,000 for the evening, which was about $50,000 more than the past average.

Shiseido was saluted at the annual Pratt Institute and Luxe Pack Art of Packaging Award Gala at the University Club in Manhattan Tuesday, with The Art of Packaging Award being accepted by Heidi Manheimer, chief executive officer of Shiseido Cosmetics America, and Katsuhiko Shibuya, creative director of the Japan-based parent, Shiseido Co. Ltd.

The event, which has been held for 23 years to raise money for the Marc Rosen Scholarship and Education Fund for the Packaging by Design program at Pratt, generated $300,000 for the evening, which was about $50,000 more than the past average. It pushed the cumulative total to $3 million for the history of the event.

In her acceptance speech, Manheimer alluded to Shiseido’s “tradition of marrying beauty and function,” while stating, “Beauty is about more than just how something looks. It’s about how it feels. How it sounds. How it functions. How it inspires. How it makes us re-imagine ourselves and our relation with the world around us.

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“We also seek to practice Omotenashi,” she continued, “a Japanese word that translates, roughly, as ‘welcome.’ But that doesn’t quite capture the true sense of the word. Omotenashi is about listening with an open mind, about caring with an open heart. It’s about establishing and nurturing a meaningful relationship with a customer, rather than just pursuing a transaction,” Manheimer said, adding that “an intrinsic part of this relationship is packaging design.”

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In giving his remarks, Shibuya quoted Shinzo Fukuhara, the founder of the 140-year-old company, who attended nearby Columbia University. “He used to say, ‘Let the product speak for itself,’” Shibuya said. “And to this day, our goal is for our customers to intuit our products’ qualities without lengthy explanations. Product packaging has a big role to play in this communication, because everything we do as a brand is a statement about what Shiseido stands for.”

Rosen, who founded the packaging design program at Pratt, picked up the night’s theme. He praised Shiseido’s design ethic of “less is more, spare, elegant packaging supports their core brand message. It is in sharp contrast to the ‘more is more’ tchotchke school of packaging that seems to be so prevalent today.”

The evening was co-hosted by Rosen; Dr. Thomas F. Schutte, president of Pratt, and Nathalie Grosdidier, executive director of Luxe Pack. The master of ceremonies duties were adroitly handled by venerable supermodel Carol Alt, who had spent the last two weeks in Moscow at the Russian fashion collections. She ended up walking down a runway sheathed in ice for a show with a hockey theme. Alt admitted that she was forced to take baby steps in her Chanel shoes. “If your heel hit the ground, you might go skidding on the ice,” she said. “It was scary but nobody fell. Everyone made it.”