Archive for the 'Packaging' Category

Fast Food Packaging

It’s Friday.  The end of a long week and traditionally take-away night in many homes.  Admittedly not usually McDonald’s down my way, but this rather innovative re-work of the Golden Arches‘ fast food packaging (also applicable to a number of other fast food burger franchises too) is wonderfully simple.

Fast Food 1

Designed to solve the problems that traditional fast food packaging offers of, broadly speaking, too many packets and not enough hands.

Fast Food 2

Instead of grabbing a a rolled up paper bag in one hand, a drink in the other, and then somehow picking up a straw and napkins on the way out, this solution neatly wraps it all up together.

Your burger, fries and drink are held in a single container with carry handle, leaving you with one free hand to send a tweet about the latest packaging design, high-five your mates, or even open the strangely heavy doors that fast food restaurants often have.

GIF above via Funri.


Disappearing Packaging

With landfill sites overflowing, and an ever-increasing focus on people recycling and reusing materials we still have a lot of waste thrown away.  Even recently the UK government’s waste advisor Wrap announced that retailers were failing to meet packaging waste pledges, with food, drink, and packaging waste in the UK supply chain totalling about 6.6m tonnes a year, and costing £5bn!

I’ve posted on the topic of packaging before with the very clever idea of Universal Packaging and everyone’s favourite guilty culprit Easter Eggs, but a quick search online reveals websites and entire Flickr groups dedicated to absurdly packaged items.

Do headphones necessarily need large vacuum-formed plastic casing stapled onto a cardboard backing, or does Amazon need to use such large boxes for small individual items?

The worst offender I have come across is probably this.


That’s right, nothing.  Just packaging.  Packaging for NOTHING!  It pains me as a designer that someone actually came up with this, with developers and retailers then thinking it was a good enough idea to manufacture it and sell it on the high street to unsuspecting customers.

A lot of this waste is not necessarily the fault of the consumer, I definitely think that more could be done by designers at the packaging development stage to think and act creatively about how products and goods are housed.  Many companies are starting to address this, albeit driven by costs of materials in packaging affecting their profits rather than environmental factors, however many products are still over-packaged.

Whilst reducing waste is a step in the right direction, designer Aaron Mickelson is striving to eliminate waste entirely.  The idea is that by designing packaging that is 100% functional to the product itself, it can very simply ‘disappear’  by the time you have finished (or even started) using it.

A few of my favourite ideas:

Nivea Bar Soap (or any brand of bar soap for that matter)
Replacing the heavy paper carton that is useless as soon as the soap bar is removed, the disappearing package is a septic-safe, water-soluble paper.

You take the whole package into the shower and once wet it dissolves leaving nothing behind.


(reminds me of something that Creative Review did a few years ago)

GLAD Trash Bags (again, applicable to most other brands too)
Instead of the heavy paperboard box, the packaging becomes one of the bags itself.  Very clever.

The necessary information is printed directly onto the last bag, which, in turn, holds the entire roll together.


The original packaging doubled (albeit very poorly) as the liner dispenser, this is improved upon here as bags are pulled out from the centre of the roll until just the final bag remains.

Twinnings Tea Bags
Traditionally tea bags come individually wrapped and stacked in a cardboard box, which is ultimately discarded.  The solution is to stitch them together with inpermanent glue into a self-standing brick (it is admitted that with almost all food goods that packaging is near impossible to remove entirely).



Each tea bag tears off with the folder becoming the hanging tag.  As a bonus this idea actually increases the available print area to provide information and graphics as the product is used.


More great ideas on The Disappearing Package.


It’s always nice to get home after a long day at the office and find a parcel waiting for you.  Perhaps it’s something you’d forgotten you’d ordered, or perhaps a genuine gift or surprise.  My delivery from recently launched brand Mayamada was neither of those, I knew it was coming, but that didn’t dampen my delight in receiving it at all.

Mayamada is a quirky Japanese inspired clothing brand set in a world of television parody.  The t-shirts (and soon to be hoodies) are all there to represent a theme and tell a story.  Mayamada “don’t do one offs”, all of the designs fit together influenced by pop culture, a quirky sense of humour and a little sprinkle of Japanese flavour.

Of the available designs I opted for Samurai Chef.

Samurai Chef is, well, a chef who judges dishes by attacking them with his samurai sword.  Excellent.

You can see a sneak preview of some of the other designs over on the Mayamada blog.

The attention to detail in the packaging is great too.  Yes it’s not unusual to have clothes orders delivered wrapped in quality tissue paper, but when it’s hand stamped with genuine ink imported from Japan – then you know these guys know what they’re doing.  It really is the little things that can make the difference, and Mayamada have excelled in this aspect.

They also lovingly threw a couple of badges – “one for me and one for a friend”.  I mean, who doesn’t like badges! If you’d like to proudly wear one of my Mayamada pins, then leave a comment below and I’ll sort out sending it over to you.  Alternatively place an order over here and you’re bound to get a couple in your delivery (this is the only sure fire way of collecting them all as the badges are specific to which clothing design you order!).

There’s also a fab letter included, welcoming you to the brand.  I won’t spoil all the secrets though, if you want to know what it says you’ll have to place an order and see for yourself!

Mayamada are all over the relevant social media sites too – keep in touch with them on both Facebook and Twitter for all the latest info.

Crayon Maker

What can you do with old crayons?  All those waxy crumbs and colourful stumps, too small to hold in your chubby childhood hands, that used to collect in the bottom of your pencil case.

Well, you can now use Crayola‘s own Crayon Maker to “mix, melt and mould” your own wild colour combinations.

I wish this had been around when I was a kid, watching crayons melt before my very eyes to make unique swirling wax crayon creations.  Awesome.  See it in action on the Crayola commercial site here.

Children of today you have no excuse, get drawing!

eBay Think Outside The Box

eBay has recently announced the launch of a recycled and reusable box for sellers to use when shipping items out to buyers.  Fairly obvious I know, but this is a really good idea.

It ticks all the boxes (pun not intended) for use of a sustainable, and FSC approved, product material whilst also mentioning the fashionable and practical buzzwords like “recycle” and “reuse”. To be honest re-anything gets positive attention at the moment. Having said all that though, the box is actually so much more, the product design goes deeper into the customer experience by tracking the box and telling the story of its journey. And we all like stories, don’t we?

The box itself is the result of this year’s Innovation Expo in which eBay provides an environment to encourage “prototypes for new products and breakthrough innovations”.

San Francisco based design studio Office designed the box with a friendly and encouraging feel to it. Just looking at it makes you want to use it, and, although recycled, I’ll bet a similar thought process went into the final finish of the card too. I’m on the waiting list for one of the initial 100,000 pilot boxes to be sent out in October so if I’m one of the lucky ones I’ll be able to comment on that in a few weeks.  If each box is used only five times then the scheme will save around 4000 trees, 2.4m gallons of water and enough electricity to power 49 homes for a year!

The pilot boxes will be available in three traditional sizes of small, medium and large, sign up with the eBay Green Team if you want to be in with a shout too.

Whilst engaging graphics adorn the box, there is function to the decoration too. Space created allows shippers to write messages and comments for the buyer, and over time as and when you reuse the box to send onto another buyer the messages build up, a timeline and geographical tail becomes mapped out.

In an entirely geeky way, and given some of the more bizarre items available on eBay, a well used box’s information mapping may be more interesting than the contents! Insightfully, and pre-empting this geekiness in more than just myself, eBay will allow you to track numbered boxes online to see which have travelled the furthest, or most frequently, giving an idea of the box’s lifetime.

Now I’m by no means a Power Seller, but I do sell the odd few items on eBay, and I’d definitely use this product given a chance. I have a drawer stuffed full of old jiffy envelopes and bubble wrap which tends to get used, but it’s hardly an elegant or efficient solution.

I often end up using much more tape than necessary, and perhaps compromise on the size, plus it’s so impersonal. This new box assists you in providing an improved service to your customers, whilst offering handy tips on how to re-use other materials for packing and minimising the use of tape. Oh, they know me so well!

Let’s not forget, as well as doing their bit for the environment (and given an estimated 90million users worldwide last year this could be quite a fair bit) and improving their green credentials, eBay stand to gain something else from this product too. It’s a form of branding and advertising, and over time a form of re-branding and re-advertising on a global scale as boxes move on and around the world.  eBay graphics surging through our postal systems and being packed and stacked into FedEx trucks will add a whole new dimension for them.

So I guess it’s win-win. The environment is better off and so is eBay, and to a degree I guess we, the buyers and sellers, will be too. Better make that win-win-win then.

Nod to Creative Review for the original spot on this.

Universal Packaging

Now this hasn’t got all the problems worked out, but it does offer an “almost genius” solution to packaging odd shape products perfectly.

Instead of putting an odd shape product into a traditional square (or really, cube) box of it’s maximum dimensions, and it taking up a lot more space than is really necessary, you can now do this.

A pre-scored carboard grid of triangles that allows you to fold up the packaging around the product to suit and fit its form (almost) perfectly.  The potential space savings could have huge benefits, if you can fit more products on a palette, then you can fit more in a truck, more transported per tank of fuel and so on and so on.

The only drawback I can see so far is how multiple units might stack if they do not have regular or flat bases, and hence perhaps not actually save any space at all!  This ‘Universal Packaging System’ by Patrick Sung overcomes this slightly by offering potential to be formed into a custom (cuboid) box.  I’m not sure if it will catch on as it seems like it could be extra hassle for more traditionally shaped items, but for one off or unique items it definitely offers a worthy solution.

Nice One, Nestle

Easter brings about a world of over-indulging, and an inevitable excess of food wrappers and packaging.

Around Easter Sunday discarded egg packages mount up next to the armchair, only to end up in the bin hours later. Yes, card can often be recycled, but the plastic less so, and the whole combined package even less than that.

Nestle have stepped up their game this year. Good design should design for the whole of the product life. Not just manufacture and use, but right through to re-use, recycling, and disposal. Good design is responsible design.

One less material used in packaging not only saves them money in the manufacturing phase (probably), but allows for improving the user experience (visually I felt it was much more appealing), and is much much easier to dispose of. No plastic, easier to recycle. No debating or guessing whether this particular kind of plastic can or can’t be recycled (does the average Easter egg consumer know the difference between thermoforming and thermosetting plastics?), the whole lot just squashes flat and straight in the one recycling bin for card.

Simple, responsible design. Nice one, Nestle.

I’ve also just come across Nestle’s own media release on this subject which you can read here, aswell as an article on optimising packaging here.

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