“Husband in a Box” (Packaging / Book of the Year, “Foe”)


  • Grace Zimmel MacEwan University


The ‘husband in a box’ shown here is a visual interpretation of the themes within Iain Reid's book, FOE. It is an ideation of how the replacement spouse would arrive at the home, and the box it arrives in showcases the confines of a marriage that were illustrated in the book. The project also highlights the absurdity of replacing your spouse.  The box itself is illustrative of the future and the past, just like the book. The time period is stuck in between the technology of the future, and the values of the past. This is shown through the sleek black colour and futuristic typeface that contrasts with the creamy beige, script font and vintage ad illustrations. Alongside the box is a brochure that would highlight the features of your ‘biomechanical duplicate spouse’. The contrast of new and old is shown again on the cover, and it depicts the couple twice, and each pair has one faceless person with a question mark instead of their facial features. This visual highlights the realistic nature of the replacement and causes the viewer to question which one in the couple is the replacement. It brings forward the frightening thought that you won’t know the difference and may potentially like the replacement better, just as the real Junior did at the end of the novel. Inside the brochure is where the absurd and frightening nature of a replacement spouse really comes to light. The instructions and explanations make it seem as if they are a product you own, not an equal partner in your relationship. The brochure continues on the right side with a description of the models you can get of your replacement husband/wife. As you progress through the models it becomes evident that each one is better than the last. The options become less like your real spouse and become ‘better than the real thing’. The descriptions and features of each model help highlight the dynamics and expectations that can be seen within a marriage. The notion that you can get a better version of your spouse is a frightening proposition that illustrates the inequality that Hen experiences in her marriage. That thought is continued through Juniors return, he expected his wife to snap back into her expected and stereotypical role as his spouse. Her role was not an equal one in their marriage and Junior did not consider the mental hardships she endured while he was gone. Junior only considered his own wants, needs, and expectations. In the end of the novel we can see that Junior didn’t want an equal partner, he wanted a ‘superior spouse’, one that meets all his expectations. But this idea of a perfect spouse can’t be found in a person, but it can be found in a product.