Surprise! The Wunderkammer Custom Punch Box


Surprise! It’s a Wunderkammer Punch Box

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In this post you’ll get an inside look at the design and production of a Wunderkammer-themed custom Punch Box we created as a creative promotional product for surprise experts (yes, that’s an official area of expertise!) Tania Luna of Surprise Industries and LeeAnn Renninger of LifeLabs New York. Tania and LeeAnn teach workshops on the psychology of surprise and Surprise Industries creates elaborate life-changing experiences for individuals and companies. Tania and LeaAnn were looking for a creative and unusual object they could give to clients and friends that would spark curiosity and communicate the essence of their work.

Vintage Inspired

Our Punch Boxes can be described many ways, but we like to think of them as super-fancy three-dimensional slow-release greeting cards. You’ve probably never seen anything like them (or maybe you did way back in the 1930s or 40s). Each Punch Box is assembled by hand and features colorful covers and twelve compartments that you “punch” out with the eraser-end of a pencil to reveal hidden messages. You can see our standard Punch Box editions here…

Our standard Sweet Words edition Punch Box

Our standard Sweet Words edition Punch Box

The Assignment

Tania and LeeAnn came to us after seeing our Sweet Words Punch Box and asked us to design front and back covers and help craft secret messages based on a Wunderkammer — or Renaissance era “cabinet of curiosities.” The Punch Box would represent the room, and each hidden compartment would feature a surprising message that gently pushed the user beyond the boundaries of their familiar world. Just as a Renaissance man might have stepped into a Wunderkammer with no knowledge of the wonders inside, Tania and LeeAnn wanted to evoke mystery, surprise, and wonder with each “punch.”

"Musei Wormiani Historia" showing Ole Worm's famous Wunderkammer.

“Musei Wormiani Historia” showing Ole Worm’s famous Wunderkammer.

Ferrante Imperato's "Dell'Historia Naturale," one of the first known illustrations of a Wunderkammer.

Ferrante Imperato’s “Dell’Historia Naturale,” one of the first known illustrations of a Wunderkammer.

What We Designed & Made

Nothing conjures up the image of a Wunderkammer quite like Ferrante Imperato’s 1599 etching Dell’Historia Naturale, so we used this as the inspiration for the Punch Box cover artwork. One side of our custom-designed Punch Box features a cabinet of small mysterious objects, while illustrations of a clock and a birdcage, among others, adorn compartments on the other side. One punch hole is held up by a whimsical floating hand that seems to be reaching into the cupboard to see what might be inside.


The front and back covers feature a mix of historic imagery and fresh whimsy.

Tania and LeeAnn settled on twelve messages that invite the user to do–or ponder–something a little bit daring or unknown. A firm punch with the eraser-end of a pencil reveals instructions like:

“Mission: Today, invite a friend to play tug-o-war with this note. Winner gets…?”
– “Mission: Today, do that thing you’ve been meaning to do (you know the one).”
“Mission: Sneak this note into someone’s pocket, purse, or book, and it will bring you both wonder-luck.”

The twelve scrolls are folded up nice and tight inside the colorful compartments.

The twelve scrolls are folded up nice and tight inside the colorful compartments.

Sorry, you’ll have to get your hands on a special-edition Wunderkammer Punch Box to find out what’s on the other nine hidden scrolls!

The Response

Now that Tania and LeeAnn have handed out many of their custom made Wunderkammer Punch Boxes to clients and friends, Tania shares:

“We’ve used our wonderful little Punch Boxes as gifts for special clients and collaborators. Across the board, the reaction was surprise, wonder, and delight. I particularly enjoy people’s tendency to hold the Punch Box very tenderly in both hands as though it is a magical little box with treasures inside (because that’s exactly what it is).”

Our suspicion is that many of these Punch Boxes are still floating around on clients’ desks or sitting on their nightstand weeks or months later. Most people punch the holes out slowly–one a week or one a month–which means that the Wunderkammer Punch Box will help Tania and LeeAnn stay top of mind with their clients for quite some time.

Create Your Very Own Custom Punch Box

If you’re in the market for creative promotional products and would like to discuss your ideas for a custom Punch Box, we’d love to hear from you! Just drop an email to and we’ll get back to you right away.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:
– Minimum order quantity for custom editions is 75 Punch Boxes
– Pricing ranges from $9-16/ea depending on design and quantity
– Expect 2-3 weeks for design/proofing and another 2-3 weeks for production

More About Wunderkammers

– Visit MoMa New York’s super-fun online exhibit: Wunderkammer: A Century of Curiosities
– A fascinating book: Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (paperback – published 1996, also available on Kindle)
– A blog of oddities for perusal:
– The wonder-box art of Joseph Cornell: Google image search, also see the newly discovered and incredible Manual of Marvels (multimedia format – published 2012)


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Lea Redmond is always looking for the poem hiding inside things: a salt shaker, a clothes tag, a hand gesture, a cloud. She is infinitely intrigued by the way experiences can slip from the ordinary to the extraordinary and she endeavors to design things that hold this possibility. Leafcutter Designs, her creative studio in Berkeley, CA, makes the world more playful and peaceful one little experience at a time.

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