Australia is one of these countries from which only every now and then a creative packaging design reaches the outside world. If you want to believe the professional packaging media (websites as well as magazines) packaging development seems to be dominated by the USA and several EU countries, among which the UK, Germany and France.
But sometimes the Australians come up with fascinating solutions for the day-to-day functional requirements of the consumer. Their (future) designers and packaging engineers certainly explore the multi-functional packaging design, which is, as said in a previous article, the actual trend in packaging.
Between parenthesis I use the word “future“, because Australia has some very interesting design schools. This shows in the Cormack Innovation Awards of which I will describe here some results of its 13th year.
The Cormack Innovation Awards are an initiative of Cormack Packaging Pty Ltd, an Australian family owned packaging business, spanning three generations. Since its establishment in Sydney in the 1940’s, Cormack has become fluid with innovation and views the Cormack Innovation Award program as an integral component to the overall management of innovation within its business. The program intends to encourage “the smart minds of the next generation of young designers in Australia and bringing these talented young minds on a mutual journey of innovation together with Cormack”.
It should be nice if more packaging companies should follow this lead.
Before we look at the selection of some award winners, let’s see what the design brief for the most recent (2014) contest specified.
Design Brief 2014
The Cormack Innovation Awards 13th year promotes the “revival” of consumer packaging from products traditionally packed in containers.
The design must give at least one significant enhancement to the product leading to increased selections of the product, loyalty to the product or simply increased sales.
The design must address the prohibitive issues associated for consumers with accessibility constraints.
The design must contain at least one environmental benefit (recyclability, light-weight)
Ok, here comes my selection of the winners:
Note: Unfortunately the website of the Cormack Awards doesn’t give the names of the winners, only the student registration number. Consequently I can’t hail, not even credit, them for their designs.
Whirl Laundry Powder
The intention of the designer was to break the inconvenient laundry tradition. Traditional laundry powder packaging is dominated by boxes and scoops, which fail to deliver a truly mess-free, contactless and first-time-accurate portioning experience.
It’s even getting worse in these days as more and more laundry powder is marketed in flexible pouches. Certainly not the most preferable packaging format for detergent powder.
The boxes as well as the pouches are prone to spilling, often stubborn to open and susceptible to moisture, which degrades the contents and the box.
As it seems to be consumers’ natural behaviour to overdose, it all comes back to the fact, that the consumer has to be spoon-fed to dose laundry detergent correctly.
San Francisco-based Method in the US did some good designs for concentrated liquid detergent (see my article: New Technology And Design In Laundry Detergent), and so are most of the other designs from the mayor detergent manufacturers (Unilever, P&G). Detergent powder, however, seems to be a neglected area by most manufacturers of this product used on a daily basis.
The designer of Whirl tries to solve these problems for powder detergent in an ergonomically designed packaging with a smart dispensing mechanism. The simplified and accurate portion dispensing is a simple and easily manufacturable, 4-component assembly.
Elegant grooves on the outside of the packaging guides the user to an effortless twist and dispense. To dispense a 125° turn aligning the grooves connects the moving chamber with the exit hole, dispensing half a portion of powder (twist twice for a full portion). It simultaneously blocks off the powder entry hole until the chamber is rotated back to the original position.
The packaging is 100% recyclable with a minimal material usage. A 100% PP construction means that it’s effortlessly recyclable with minimal processing needed at recycling plants. Wall thicknesses have also been reduced to the bare minimum required for functionality.
A design worth seeing in the actual market of detergent powder.
Twist and Measure
Here we have another measuring and dispensing packaging. This one is highlighting a redesign to facilitate correct portioning and ease of use of Spirulina.
Wikipedia teaches us that Spirulina is a cyanobacterium that can be consumed by humans and other animals. There are two species, Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima.
Arthrospira is cultivated worldwide and is used as a dietary supplement as well as a whole food. It is available in tablet, flake and powder form.
The designer argues that the current packaging (a simple jar) for powder proves to be a very difficult and also messy to exercise the portioning required. He/she classifies the packaging as lacking usability, availability and the ability to control the material to eliminate wastage and mess.
The designer’s solution is an easy to understand and consumer-friendly packaging that eliminates mess and the need for (skin)contact with the powder. The packaging has been designed as an all combined system, excluding the need for other measuring tools or any need for washing or wiping up after use.
With thinner walls, the new packaging is refill-friendly. This will allow the consumer to reuse the packaging, by buying bulk and pouring it in. (I’m afraid here he underestimates the mess usually as result of refilling.)
I don’t have to write more about this design, as the images clearly show and explain the working order of this packaging.
Keep Love Strong
As number one requirement of the consumer is convenience, it’s not surprising that the award winners of the Cormack contest concentrated their designs around measuring, dosing, portioning, pouring and similar activities the consumer carries out many times a day.
So also with this “Keep Love Strong” design for dry cat food. The designer (I think it’s a “she”, don’t ask me why and don’t tell me I’m a sexist) took the popular paperboard box as example to redesign. Paperboard might be a cheap packaging material, for products as dog and cat food and many others it often delivers oversized packages. Furthermore dry dog and cat food is hygroscopic and paperboard isn’t the best choice of packaging material to avoid that.
The designer correctly claims that portion control is impossible to achieve with the paperboard box format and consequently comes up with a dispensing bottle with a portion chamber.
The cap of the bottle has to be rotated to open the portion chamber. By turning the bottle upside-down the dry cat food flows into the portion chamber, after which the cap has to be rotated another time to close the flow. After flipping the cap open the product can be poured, while the content of the bottle is blocked entering the portion chamber.
It’s a simple, but effective design, but made from a combination of PP and HDPE the solution can’t compete in price with the paperboard box. That’s of course crystal clear, but it still has a chance as we shouldn’t forget that the consumer is fed up with useless and wasteful packaging. He wants multi-functionality and convenience and is, in general, prepared to pay for it.
It’s obvious that portion control and convenience is king in Australia. The designer of Easy Squeezy promotes the spread packaging as “a revitalised, ergonomic, compact and easy to use approach replacing traditional jars”.
Most spread products are packaged in jars, either plastic or glass. The jar with its screw cap is, due to the hot-filling process, often a determent to certain groups of consumers living with inhibited or low dexterity, as they experience difficulty opening the jar. Furthermore consumers have to use some sort of tool (knife, spoon) to spread the contents where they want it. Scooping too much or too less from the jar can make a mess.
The designer decided to create a solution that would eliminate these issues.
Easy Squeezy is a lightweight, portable and compact solution for applying spread, whether the consumer is on-the-go or at home. The ergonomic grip allows for single-handed dispensing.
The body of the tube is made from injection blow moulded LDPE allowing for a very thin wall thickness needed for effortless squeezing. The incorporation of a thread guarantees a strong air-tight seal between the lid and the body, preventing accidental removal of the lid and contamination of the content.
The flip-top lid itself is made from injection moulded PP and uses a compliant mechanism made from a single piece of plastic utilising flexure hinges to open and close. When shut the top piece interlocks with a snap with the base of the lid to securely seal the product.
Easy Squeezy is made from recyclable materials to ensure that the packaging is entirely environmentally friendly and simple to recycle through most available household recycling programs.
Not to make this article too long, I push 3 more designs I selected forward into a next article. Stay tuned, they are worth looking at.