Spotlight: Uneka Concepts Inc.
by Ivan Navarro on 09/18/2014 | 21 Minute Read
Based in the San Francisco Bay area, Uneka Concepts is an industrial design firm that specializes in packaging design. What sets Uneka apart, is that they not only focus on packaging design and engineering, but they also manufacture the packaging they design. Because of their experience in both packaging engineering and manufacturing, Uneka is able to deliver packaging using virtually any material, able to optimize manufacturing efficiencies, able to integrate green practices, and are able to ensure an outstanding out-of-box experience to end-consumers.
"We are a design firm that understands the demands and drivers of manufacturing. A manufacturing company that values and supports the aesthetics of great design. Finding fresh approaches is our specialty. Inspiration for design can come from anywhere – architecture, automotive, nature, engineering principles, other products. Our goal is to find the new technologies or proven methods that best fit what the client needs. We ask ourselves 'why' at every design review, especially, and most importantly if we have a client who doesn’t."
Adobe Ink & Slide
Adobe crafted a beautiful digital pen and ruler for their contribution to mobile workflow. Enticing designers, architects and students with software and hardware that works seamlessly with iPad tablets.
Adobe rightfully expected, and nurtured every possible detail that went into this package design and execution. The geometry details were pushed to the limits in the manufacturing process, with the pulp trays undergoing several iterations and rounds of testing before finally delivering on the simplistic but beautifully formed package to present Adobe’s latest digital pen and ruler. The choice of Neenah premium uncoated papers and subtle foil stamping with minimalistic artwork really meant that the construction of the package had to be flawless.
Character SF partnered with Uneka for Adobe Ink and Slide.
Anki Drive takes the remote control game experience to a new level of interactivity. The packaging needed to embody that excitement and house all the product elements; cars, accessories, and a 100” x 43” racetrack. This package’s sleek, angular design evokes the speed and intensity of the trend-setting artificial intelligent, remote controlled game it houses. It combines exceptional shelf appeal, a powerful reveal on opening, and a functional storage case for sustained usage after unboxing
The design and manufacturing team had to work to combine structural elements and aesthetics, not an easy task in a box as tall as most 2nd graders.
Character SF partnered with Uneka for Anki Drive.
When you have a beautifully designed product, great package design is a must. Our challenge was to protect and display the latest Chromebook with the simplicity and distinctiveness embodied by Google. And, most importantly, it all had to be eco-friendly.
To accomplish this, design and engineering pioneered a structure made from interlocking layers of bamboo and sugar cane pulp. It’s a pulp process that doesn’t act like paper. Our team worked with manufacturers to innovate processes and tooling to create a smooth, un-interrupted visual exterior.
Liquid Agency partnered with Uneka for HP Chromebook.
For the FitBit products, we needed a package that was as simple and small as the devices themselves. As a product family, we wanted all the packages to feel aligned, while letting the distinctive elements of each product stand out. The biggest challenge was to showcase the ID of the products while being to capture them within a window or a box backdrop. Using creatively designed and engineered support structures from a minimal amount of plastic allowed us to frame the Fitbit family in a cohesive and elegant manner.
Character SF partnered with Uneka for Fitbit.
For the Lytro camera, the Uneka team wanted to create an unboxing experience worthy of this piece of true modern art. As a product new to the retail environment, the Lytro package had to showcase the uniqueness of the camera and convince retailers that its sophistication and beauty would result in strong off-the-shelf draw.
The unique shape and styling of the camera itself demanded a different kind of presentation. Instead of submerging the product in protective materials, we wanted opening the package to feel more dramatic and refined. The resulting box includes an on-a-pedestal presentation and richly tactile materials that feel both impactful and smartly simple. By combining premium materials, smart design, and thoughtful minimalism, the Lytro package delivers a powerful impression from every angle.
Nixon Audio Electronics
Nixon wanted to use the Stylus package development exercise as a jumpstart for updating all of its product packaging. The solutions needed to be simple and carry the DNA throughout the line.
The interior panels of the Stylus package are a door to the world of Nixon with their photo collage treatment and immediate access to the headphones. When the user pulls the headphones out, they surround a pillar that houses the accessories and that can be used as a stand for the headphones to kick it on their desk when they hit the pause button.
The TPS box is a unique addition to the Nixon line because it holds The Party Speaker—a very cool, rectangular Bluetooth speaker—rather than headphones. To create a family feel, the white exterior box is the same height as the Stylus products and uses the interconnected side doors to display imagery and messaging when opened. This signature element of the Nixon opening experience reinforces brand value and builds connection.
By literally designing the Stylus and the TPS packages from the inside out, we created a powerfully cool unboxing experience with ongoing impact.
This elegantly simple hinged rigid box with a creatively engineered molded-pulp insert also provides outstanding, yet unobtrusive protection for the tablet. The all-paper solution is both environmentally friendly and cost-effective, while complementing the high-end nature of the device. With this design, we created motion without mechanics and made what seemed an impossible task both possible and beautiful. The design process involved breaking down the mechanical elements back to basic physics. We needed a design free of additional parts and processes, by stripping it down to planer geometry and pivoting angles we were able to achieve a repeatable make method that met all of the criteria of the design brief.
When a new product line comes on the market ready to make its mark, Uneka looks at things from a different perspective to provide packaging advantage. For Slice, we have integrated their unique brand device into a variety of form factors to create a unified line and on-shelf presence.
Ranging from a simple, PET or rigid box to a combination box/sleeve construction or folding cartons and die-cut foams, the Uneka team has created a system for Slice’s state-of-the-art cutting products that sets them apart. Our challenge was to integrate a core angled branding element into each package.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this post failed to mention the design firms associated with some projects. Adobe Ink and Slide, Anki Drive, Fitbit were created in partnership with Character SF. Slice was created in partnership with Manual and Liquid Agency. HP Chromebook was created in partnership with Liquid Agency.