Audio Cassette Inserts

Posted by Scott

Talk about inspiration; these are all simply incredible. I used to obsess over tapes when I was a kid, always looking for the coolest packaging or interesting design. But never in all those years did I come across any as cool as these. Most of these look to be a little before my time and, of course, are of European origin. I always wonder what effect growing up around such interesting design might have had on me. All we had in the states was this crap, while German kids got to record Ege Bamyasi to little plastic boxes coated in design goodness. Maybe it’s for the best, I guess now I can appreciate things like this more. Jubru has posted these scans to a flickr gallery where you’ll find many more great examples.

Via thened

31 Comments Leave A Comment


Keith Rondinelli says:

February 20, 2009 at 5:25 am

Scott, these are awesome. I’m starting to feel like cassettes are the new vinyl. I had such a huge tape collection, and thinking about tapes evokes the same sense of nostalgia as vinyl records. Several years back while living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I found, in a junk shop, several crates filled with discarded cassettes, a true gold mine. This just gave me the idea to scan some of the labels.

Anyway, here’s a 3D render I did as commemoration to my cassette tape youth.


Jeff Johnson says:

February 20, 2009 at 6:38 am

I had those Memorex cassettes myself in the 80’s Scott. From a design standpoint, I always thought that the Memorex packaging had been influenced (albeit poorly executed) by the Memphis design movement. I thought the packaging was brilliant when I first saw it, then grew tired of it quickly.

This quote kind of sums up the movement and the full article is at this URL:

“Other pieces of furniture and lights were made from industrial materials – printed glass, celluloids, fireflake finishes, neon tubes and zinc-plated sheet-metals – jazzed up with flamboyant colours and patterns, spangles and glitter. By glorying in the cheesiness of consumer culture, Memphis was “quoting from suburbia,” as Sottsass put it. “Memphis is not new, Memphis is everywhere.” Matteo Thun described Memphis as “a mental gymnasium”.


jacob says:

February 20, 2009 at 6:55 am

They are visually beautiful, especially when taken out of context and displayed alone as ‘art’ pieces.

… however, the technical skill on the typography is really lacking. (Ask Alex, as a fellow AAU student, it gets drilled into us.)

Any idea if these were done in house, by a firm, freelance, etc…?


greg says:

February 20, 2009 at 7:18 am

I saw these on another blog last week and immediately went on a “favorite” spree at Flickr.

Yeah, some of the typography is wack on a technical level, but it doesn’t diminish the impact of the visual thrill of these babies.


mpb says:

February 20, 2009 at 7:31 am

Those Memorex tapes sounded like crap, too. TDK was where it was at (if memory serves, the packaging was slightly better as well).

In the 80’s, KLOS down in Los Angeles used to play complete albums over the air on Sunday evenings, only breaking with commercials when a side (yes, a side!) ended. I can remember going with my dad on Saturday nights to get stacks of TDK tapes with which to record them. He built up quite a music collection that way. During the week I would listen to the tapes going to and from school on my Walkman.

It was the “Napster of the 80’s”.


phil says:

February 20, 2009 at 7:46 am

those memorex tapes weren’t THAT bad. and the design on the memorex tapes were pretty cool in retrospect. anyhow, i personally believe that the lack of “whatever” (i.e.- design, availability, accessibility) helped in the creative levels of many departments of living and lifestyle “back in the day”.

on the other hand… i really do think it is a wonderful thing to consider if having those german tapes would have effected you.


Joaquim Marquès Nielsen says:

February 20, 2009 at 11:59 am

That darn Flickr “spaceball” thing! I just took screen shots of very single one of them and ran a crop batch in Photoshop. I just HAD to archive them in my “inspiration vault”. I remember tapes like these from my own childhood, but it’s only now that I really appreciate their aesthetics.

You guys just mail me if you’d like a zip…


goLukas says:

February 20, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Scott, I love your vintage issues posts, and so wow there is a great covers tape, hardly to find a good collection like that. And well like tape fan, I found some months ago this link about the tapes, at the bottom of the home page is categorized the gallery by brands//
Well, now Im going to get my walkman and play my tape just for ear some like that : ) //
hehe, have a great weekend.
Sorry the English, I’m spanish speaker.


frank says:

February 20, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Haha, I had some of those memorex tapes. I also remember the BASF ones among all of my parents old tapes, so at least those were around in the U.S.


Grub says:

February 20, 2009 at 7:26 pm

I always loved the highly-technical-looking specs and signal-to-noise charts that blank tapes always seemed to have printed on their covers.


Sebas van den Brink says:

February 21, 2009 at 6:15 am

I love the Philips one, that bring back a lot of memories. My parents used to have this spindles with self-recorded Philips cassettes. Beautiful design, really. Reminds me of an old Sony logo found on radios. I wanted to mention but I see someone else beat me to it :) I’m glad we had plastic boxes though, where did you keep your cassettes? Or how did you keep them clean? I miss my old white Telefunken radio… it was crap, but it was my crap.


Jarrett says:

February 21, 2009 at 9:45 pm

It’s weird how the BASF design looks pretty much exactly like a roll of Kodak – like maybe 110.

These might just pre-date my memory; the tapes of my youth seemed to be more pedestrian. Except TEAC. Those were bitchin’.


Dane says:

March 30, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Those are all amazing, but its a toss up between the Austrian Phillips, or the Audio Cassette C-60.


Mike Cottone says:

April 4, 2009 at 10:33 am

these are great- nothing better than simple, inspirational designs. i think my dad may have some of those german basf tapes that he got while stationed there years ago…


dario says:

June 21, 2009 at 7:02 pm

These are from around the mid 70s (the Philips and Sony at least I’m sure of) My dad had tons of these. You never got to see the artwork besides when buying the tapes, tho, because you would filp the card over and write the tracks on the reverse side.
Then later on I turned to drawing covers for my tapes, playing with india ink pens, xerox machines and letraset dry transfer sheets… and I became a designer :) Talk about a trip down memory lane!

Well, I have some digging to do in old shoeboxes!


Ken R says:

March 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Wow – I remember those cassette covers! Had a few of them, but the TDK 30/60/90 were the ones I usually bought.


Ken R says:

March 2, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Wow – I remember those cassette covers – Had a few of them, but the TDK 30/60/90 were the ones I usually bought.