My journey to design and packaging started long before I was born. I’m a 3rd generation supermarket man. My grandfather, Raymond Coulombe, was a butcher and my Uncle Donald started his career wrapping potatoes, and worked his way up to become a store manager for the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company.
I worked various jobs in grocery stores, but knew I was not cut out for that side of the “family business.”
Still, I learned a lot about life from my grandfather. Most importantly, if you love something, you stick with it, and if you don’t — well… toss it. Once at a family clam-boil, I saw him take a jar of mustard and throw it across the room. It circled the rim of the garbage can and dropped in. It was as though he was Larry Bird shooting a three-point shot to win the game. (It was the 70’s when you could throw things across the room and not get in trouble.) A&P he stuck with…, mustard not so much.
Like I said I worked many jobs in grocery stores and it was during this time I became fascinated with the products and their packaging, much more so than the jobs I was assigned to do. I knew that I was too creative and restless to be cooped up behind the deli counter forever. At some point I knew I would be moving on, but that a little piece of me would be left behind (and it was…literally — in the form of the tip of my right index finger. I cut it off during my freshman year of college.).
I’ve been in the packaging business 20+ years now and I have been fortunate enough to have worked on a lot of projects and been to some really great places. But when, in 2015 Smith Design moved to Morristown around the corner from an old A&P since converted to a Whole Foods, it felt like my Grandfather and Uncle Donald had followed me here. The store next door was calling to me and I was inspired to honor them.
I believe that what we do here at Smith Design is art and that with the right inspiration we can make even the most basic and mundane items, like grocery bags, beautiful.