From inspiration to a final product
A designer has to come up with functional packaging solutions in a short timeframe.Metsä Board
Award-winning packaging designer Iiro Numminen shares his thoughts on the process involved in making ideas a reality.
The feeling of realising you’ve come up with a great idea is fantastic, but putting the idea into use (and taking it to production) can be a long process.
In packaging design, there are as many different stages as there are products that need to be packaged, and they all need to be addressed individually. Every idea needs to be tested and thought out with the product and the client in mind, and this usually means a lot of testing (physical models) and making sure the packaging is functional in every phase of its lifespan.
The industry is quite fast paced, so usually you can’t afford to wait for a revolutionary idea to dawn on you, but instead you have to come up with functional solutions in a short timeframe.
Minimising waste is one of the main goals in packaging design and it is the designer’s job to keep sustainability in mind no matter what product is being packaged. This has a lot to do with the choice of material, and the more we can replace plastic with, for example, fibre-based materials in packaging the better it is for the environment.
"In packaging design, there are as many different stages as there are products that need to be packaged, and they all need to be addressed individually. "
The packaging has to protect the product in the supply chain (logistics), but the designer’s job is also to avoid over-packaging, as this can have a huge negative impact on the amount of waste produced. For example, if the designer has chosen to use four-millimetre corrugated board when two-millimetre material would’ve sufficed, the material used for packaging is essentially doubled.
If the thicker material really is necessary to keep the product intact through the supply chain, it could make more sense to take a look at optimising the logistics rather than over-packaging the product itself.
Often designs that started out as complicated get streamlined and simplified as you get closer to the final product in the design process. The simpler the packaging, the easier it is to manufacture, but this fact shouldn’t hinder the end user’s experience when they receive the product and dispose of the packaging.
The more the designer knows about the production methods that are available to them, the earlier they can take into account all the possible problems that might arise and steer clear of such issues. In addition, an experienced designer also takes into account things like the use of adhesives in the production process and the amount of time it takes to manufacture the packaging from raw material to the finished product.
This continues for as long as necessary, until the problems have been ironed out and the feedback from all parties has been taken into account.
The whole process from idea to conception entails continuous co-operation with professionals of different fields and is a balancing act between the possibilities and constraints that you face when designing a new product.