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Packaging’s Evolution from “Silent Salesman” to “Brand Ambassador”

Published November 21, 2023
Published November 21, 2023
Lavernia & Cienfuegos

With 72% of consumers directly influenced by packaging in their purchasing decisions, packaging counts. At Make a Mark, the creative platform created by Avery Dennison, Leonhard Kurz, and Estal in 2021, the medium has even further-reaching potential as competition entrants are given no budget or material constraints and full access to the latest material innovations and technologies. Twenty packaging design agencies from across the world submitted concepts focusing on new ways to interpret sustainability, innovation, and luxury in the medium.

Last year’s finalists spoke of no-waste and digital packaging, as well as rethinking the codes of luxury. The 2023 finalist cohort is continuing to push the envelope with innovative packaging for beauty and fragrance, reflecting on the medium's evolution as a brand signifier. The designs were unveiled in early October 2023 at Luxe Pack Monaco. BeautyMatter caught up with the design studios to discuss their creative ethos and future-facing perspectives on the hows, whats, and whys of packaging.

ARD Design Agency, Switzerland

The ARD creative team presented vibrant, square, Art Deco-esque fragrance flacons in hues of baby blue, sunflower yellow, and pastel magenta, topped with rubber dropper tops. Nano and sculptured embossing were added on the front of each for extra tactile and visual impact. The concept, coined Fiore: Perfume for Food, is a play on the immense impact of aroma on taste perception, resulting in up to 80% of perceived taste. Aromatic essences from the Swiss Alps including chamomile, glacier crowfoot, and wild garlic were turned into food perfumes that users can add to any dish of their choice.

What are the pillars of innovative packaging design?

Jane Struk, Managing and Creative Director: In my journey through design, I've come to believe that the pillars of truly innovative packaging are:

  1. Heartfelt Functionality: It's always more than a box; it's an experience waiting to be unwrapped.
  2. Visual Soul: Every great design tells a story that resonates.
  3. Green Thinking: A nod to our planet; ensuring we give back more than we take.
  4. Empathy in Design: Putting myself in the shoes of the end user, always.
  5. Fluidity: Embracing change and ensuring designs flow with the evolving tides of consumer needs.

What will define the future of packaging for 2023 and beyond?

JS: As I gaze ahead to 2023 and beyond, the future of packaging feels exciting and transformative. Here's what I personally see shaping our world:

  1. Sustainability: It's personal for many of us. Eco-friendly materials aren't just a trend; they're a statement of our values.
  2. Smart Interactions: Incorporating AI and augmented reality—packaging is no longer passive; it's an interactive experience.
  3. Personal Touches in Packaging: There's something incredibly special about customization and personalization. To me, it's about making every user feel seen and valued. When a package carries a hint of the person it's meant for, it transforms into a heartfelt message.

For me, the future of packaging design is personal; a canvas where innovation meets intimacy, functionality meets art, and where every design choice tells a story.

Dario Frattaruolo Design, Italy

Moody and dramatic, the creative’s submission was Notte Oscura Hermetic Parfum. Notte Oscura translates to dark night, referencing the dark night of the soul, a process of psycho-spiritual transformation that results in a period of intense sadness and suffering, but ultimately is thought to bring one closer to God. In practical terms, that translated to a black metal cover over a transparent bottle engraved with alchemical symbol engravings and mother-of-pearl accents across its sides and cap, with a crystal-like engraving hovering in the center of the bottle.

What are the pillars of innovative packaging design?

Dario Frattaruolo, Designer and Illustrator: Integrating new printing technologies with new materials will be a fundamental of innovative packaging design. To drive innovation in this area, experimentation will be crucial. Another important factor is to identify new materials, and types of inks, both from the point of view of sustainability and to discover new textures and tactile sensations for the consumer. Another key factor for innovative packaging is to use neuroscience, specifically, perception theories, to help identify design aspects of physical or virtual objects/environments that our brains naturally find more appealing.

What will define the future of packaging for 2023 and beyond?

DF: I believe the future of packaging currently is sustainability. Designers and print technicians have a duty to address and solve improving the sustainability of packaging, respecting our society and our planet. From my point of view, conceiving a "sustainable" packaging project gives us the opportunity to renew and experiment in the field of design, pushing us towards new languages, new ways of creating a pack, and new studies on the perception of materials.

Designsake Studio, US

A fusion of tortoiseshell print, white and auburn ombre, and taupe metallic accents, Designsake Studio’s submission offers up a visual feast. The vessel is built to house a SPF 50 sunscreen oil by the luxury sun care brand Gingerly. The brand name is a nod to “gingers,” a common moniker for redheads who freckle in reaction to the sun, hence the speckled tortoiseshell print on the bottle. The natural amber gradient is a nod to the ocean’s horizon line, while iridescent foils emulate water refraction and abalone shells, bringing the “sun, sea, and skin” concept full circle.

What are the pillars of innovative packaging design?

Danielle McWaters, Founder and Executive Creative Director (ECD) at Designsake Studio: It’s a perfect symphony of design, regeneration, and the practical. A product’s packaging design should be a true reflection of a company’s values and purpose translated through materials, processes, and be considerate of the entire lifecycle. Sustainable packaging is table-stakes in 2023, and we must move towards principles of circularity and regeneration to truly reach new levels of innovation in the world of packaging. 

What will define the future of packaging for 2023 and beyond? 

DM: My hope is that brands and the designers behind them expect more from sustainable design. At the onset of new endeavors, regardless of category, may the considerations of people and the planet push us to employ materials, processes, and technology in more responsible ways. Let's uncover new solutions, share our knowledge across industries, and open the aperture on systemwide ways to measure success. If we can, we will reshape our notions of “innovation” to not just include words like premium and recyclable but useful, durable, reusable, and regenerative.

Human, Mexico

Metamorph features a striking cobalt blue sculpture—consisting of four circular objects to represent the four dots, or quadruple helix structure, of human DNA—inside a transparent glass and silver metal structure, shaped like a pebble for a futurism meets nature effect. Once opened, the standing base reveals itself as the closing cap of the atomizer design, with the blue sculpture holding the fragrance liquid. “Metamorph is a reminder that evolution is the key to unlocking the full potential as a society, and that the journey is just as crucial as the destination,” the agency explains.

What are the pillars of innovative packaging design?

Alejandro Flores, Founder and Creative Director: It's important to think about how our designs can offer new ways of understanding the issues at hand. Innovation in design comes from making things work well, and then making them look good based on their functionality. At Human, we evaluate projects based on three main factors: aesthetic, economic impact and investment, and the technical steps needed to bring them to life. 

We believe that no matter the project, it's essential to approach it this way: find and solve problems that meet the needs of customers and the market. We always aim to create solutions that not only look good but also stand out, driving the industry to keep getting better. Innovation in design truly happens when we identify and solve problems that matter to customers while creating solutions that are both attractive and unique.

What will define the future of packaging for 2023 and beyond?

AF: I envision the future of packaging shaped by sustainability as its cornerstone. It might sound cliche but it really is where we are heading. This emphasis on sustainability will drive the adoption of eco-friendly materials, efforts to minimize waste, and lead to designs centered around recyclability. Additionally, I see customization as a pillar of this trend, where there will be a significant focus on experience designs, such as smart packaging integrating technologies like NFC tags, which will revolutionize product tracking, authentication, and consumer engagement.

Simplicity and minimalism will be strong; we have seen this in previous years. I’m not referring to the graphic design elements, but rather reducing material usage and solving problems using minimal aesthetics, ensuring both efficient shipping and enhanced product protection.

Lavernia & Cienfuegos, Spain

Sleek and slick, Lavernia & Cienfuegos’ submission lets the bottle cap take center stage, in varying shapes and shades ranging from hexagonal wood to round acetate and square graphite. EDIT(036) takes philosophical inspiration from celebrated mind Jean Baudrillard, who coined the term “sign value,” or the ability of an object to convey self-representation. The design is also customizable, with five different finishes of glass for the bottle and six different cap and base options in three different materials and three different finishes. There are 40,500 possible combinations in total, according to the agency.

What are the pillars of innovative packaging design?
Nacho Lavernia, Founding Partner and Creative Director:

1. Seek a new, different approach for the project. One that questions the very concept of the product and rejects any previous bias.
2. Design proposals incorporating new materials, processes, and/or uses looking to improve performance and user experience.
3. Project viability. When we talk about innovation, we sometimes forget that every project must be viable; that is to say, it must provide a solution to the objectives of the company/customer; satisfy the needs of the user; and be manufacturable in time, form, and price. Innovation is achieved when all this is achieved within a new and different packaging.

What will define the future of packaging for 2023 and beyond?

NL: There are two issues that profoundly condition the future of packaging: one is sustainability, which requires us to rethink materials, processes, and forms of consumption; and the other is online sales, where packaging is no longer James Pilditch's "silent salesman" but a key player in the user experience. It no longer has to seduce at the point of sale, but at the moment of receiving and opening the package. It goes from being a "salesman" to a "brand ambassador."

Mazarine Pascalie Design, France

Described as a “radical, ecologically committed alternative approach to luxury,” Nogashi is a zero waste skincare packaging range that is plastic-free and reusable. The products (cleanser, cream, serum) are sold in powder form and then diluted with water. Liquid products come packaged in transparent sage, recycled glass, with matte white pump and lid components, as well as a matte hemp paper pouch for powder options. All options bear a gold foil logo script.

What are the pillars of innovative packaging design?

MP Pascalie, Strategic Planning: Singularity, audacity, beauty, ergonomy. New and qualitative materials that are more sustainable.

What will define the future of packaging for 2023 and beyond?

MP: Less packaging. That means less waste, less weight, less cardboard, less plastic or no plastic, and more and more reusable and refillable systems for primary packaging. More quality and perfection for luxury details.


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