The New Year’s festivities in the West are behind us, and the Chinese are looking forward to their New Year’s festivities, which is the most important traditional festival in the Chinese calendar. Also known as the Spring Festival it is celebrated for sixteen days. The Chinese year 4713, the Year of the Goat ((in some literature it’s called the Year of the Sheep), begins on Feb. 19, 2015.
Chinese months are reckoned by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. In China, people may take weeks of holiday from work to prepare for and celebrate the New Year. It is a time of family reunion. Family members gather at each other’s homes for visits and shared meals, most significantly a feast on New Year’s Eve.
It’s also a time for gifts, sometimes very expensive ones, sometimes simple, but always in a design of good taste. Chinese gift packaging is a mixture of modern packaging technology and ancient Chinese culture. It’s fascinating to look at them closely. Therefore it’s really a pity that it is so difficult to visit Chinese websites. The Chinese deserve more international attention of their packaging design. The designs not only are beautiful, but also effective and often cleverly constructed. In contrast to the modern western designs, Chinese design combines western packaging technology, and traditional materials with Chinese art and ancient folk culture.
For this special period of the year I took a look at the 2015 Awards of the PackStar.
China “Pack Star” is the prize for outstanding packaging design nationwide, which is established by The Organizing Committee of Recommending Packaging Design for “World Star”.
The texts are short, so you have to take a close look at the pictures. Enjoy the beauty.
“Gujinggong Liquor”- Year puree
Shenzhen Oracle Creative Design designed this packaging for Gujinggong Liquor. Gujinggong Liquor is produced in the city of Bozhou, Anhui province. The company, which produces alcohol from grains such as wheat, rice and corn, started in a small distillery in 1515.
With the packaging Shenzhen Oracle Creative Design intended to create a visual expression of fashion and internationalisation based on the traditional oriental culture.
The “year” in the concept “year puree” corresponds to the concept of “time”. In the design, Shenzhen Oracle has brought in the ingredient of “Tai Chi”, a Chinese martial art. Originally developed for self-defence, Tai Chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise.
The material of the bottle is bone china, a type of soft-paste porcelain that is composed of bone ash, feldspathic material, and kaolin. It contains a minimum of 30% of phosphate derived from animal bone and calculated calcium phosphate. Bone china is known for its high levels of whiteness and translucency.
That fits with the overall tone, which is white, representing purity, philosophy and wisdom in oriental culture. The style of the box is quite consistent with that of the bottle. Minimalist, modern fashion style overturns the classical style of the traditional white wine container.
Charm of Bamboo
Design agency Shenzhen Lingyun Creative Packaging Design created an intriguing packaging for another liquor.
The whole packaging is an assembling of several parts. Wood is used for the bottom base and the screw at the top. The bottle fits the packaging perfectly thanks to the screws at the top and the bottom. When assembled together, the bottle in the centre supports the bamboo bows of the packaging. The bamboo pieces can spin round the centre, while each bamboo piece is linked with each other, once one bamboo piece moves, the others will move with it, and different looks of the design can be shown with the help of those bamboo pieces.
The instructions are folded inside the packaging.
Crown of Flower Liquor
Design agency Shenzhen Bene Packaging Design came up with the concept of a bottle design shaped as a water drop. The colour blue represents ecologic health.
The structure of the outer box is very precise as, after you take the bottle away, you can fold the box into the thickness of one paperboard sheet.
Guanzhong Eight Views in Taibai, Xijing
The inspiration of this gift packaging, designed by Chuangyi Packaging Design, originates from the old cities of China and the five characteristics are based on “famous people, paintings, porcelains, cities and wine”, with the focus on Chinese peculiar elements.
Xi’an, the old and prosperous ancient capital city for six ancient dynasties of China, has been expressed through wooden structures. The paint technique and traditional Dehua Porcelain are combined to show the product’s luxury taste, and the water-paintings are well managed in a harmony with the ancient Chinese city walls.
All these show unique Chinese artistic features. Wherever placed in whatever background, it can stand out proudly.
Guiding Chinese Tea
The packaging for Guiding Chinese tea is another creation of design agency Shenzhen Oracle Creative Design. It is an elegant design, featured by the brand attribute “Nobility”. Its black gold gilt design looks exquisite and attractive.
The packaging consists of an inner box and an outer box. The outer box is easy to pull out and push in, while the inner box is opened like the door of an ancient mansion of a noble family. The folding bag design is novel and handy. To use a paperboard box pack is beneficial in terms of recycling.
Huojing Tea Package
Designed by the Art College Of Sichuan University, the Huojing Tea Package represents the history of 3000 years of the mother tree of Huojing tea. The picture of a tree in the dawn, drawn in a Chinese painting style visualizes the long history and the origin of “Tea Horse Road”.
The red and black inner boxes represent tea of different years. The inner boxes have the same fan-shape as the picture on the outer box. The two inner boxes can be combined into a fan-shape with the mortise and tenon joint structure.
The tea set in the box can expresses the theme better.
Red of Ningxia – First Generation of Legend of Chinese Wolfberry
Like the açaí berries in the Amazon, the NingXia Wolfberries are considered in Central Asia as the fruit for longevity and well-being.
According to legend, a wolfberry bush was found in Tibet over a fountain. The residents of the village, who drank the water from this well, all looked very young, which was attributed to the Wolfberries growing over the fountain.
Called “goji” by native Chinese, wolfberries have been used in traditional folk medicine for over 5,000 years and so are the wolfberry legends found in ancient Chinese medicine.
The bottle, designed by Shenzhen Lingyun Creative Packaging Design, is a very intriguing one. It takes some close look to understand the packaging structure.
The main colours of the bottle are black and silver, which create a sense of modest luxury. The packaging of the product is made of clear plastic material. The structure is flexible, so that when the packaging bag (the body of the bottle) is empty, it can be reduced to a disk.
There are two small pillars on the top of the packaging bag, two parts will be fastened by rotating them. The decorating on the container is a climbing plant, which looks like a number “1”, called the theme of “First Generation of Legend of Chinese Wolfberry” .
West Lake Longjing Green Tea
Xihu Longjing Tea is a famous green tea in China. It grows in the mountains around the Xihu Lake (West Lake) of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. It is very complex to produce Xihu Longjing Tea, so that elaborate techniques are adopted during plucking and processing to ensure excellent quality.
Chinese calligraphy has a strong artistic and ornamental culture, therefore it combines perfectly with tea, as tea is one of China’s traditional commodities.
Tea is the symbol of oriental culture.
This packaging, designed by Zhejiang Salfo Package Co, for West Lake Longjing Green Tea integrates both cultural elements wonderfully.
The calligraphy of “Longjing Green Tea” and “Xihu Longjing Tea” in a modern style and the unique way of opening the packaging like a West Lake lotus underscores the typical Chinese style, and embodies the Chinese tea culture “Qing”, which stands for majestic, elegant.
Xifeng Liquor – Competition on Huashan Mountain
Xifeng Liquor called “Qin wine” or “Liulin wine” is one of the four most famous wines from China, produced in Fengxiang County, Baoji City, Shaanxi Province, and made from barley and pea-flavoured baijiu, a strong distilled spirit, usually distilled from sorghum, or in southern China glutinous rice.
Xifeng liquor boasts a long history that is said to date back to the Tang Dynasty. It has a rich cultural influence.
The new packaging design for Xifeng Liquor, created by Shenzhen Bene Packaging Design, uses black and red as main colours. The outside box has a good protection effect on the bottle. The bottle and the box mix well. The rectangular outside box and inside box are connected by a spindle. Rotate the bottle to take it away from the outer box.
It’s merchandise as well as a work of art.
That was the overview of Chinese gift packaging awarded in the China StarPak contest 2015. There are a few countries in the world, where in these days traditional packaging designs are influenced by modern packaging techniques, and structures, often with the traditional material partly still in place. One of these countries is Russia with its rich tradition and fast moving modern development. I like to write a similar overview like this one about Russian packaging design with traditional influences. However it has to wait a bit, as I haven’t yet enough information, examples and details.