Better With Less – The Jury Speaks Volumes
by Bill McCool on 06/18/2018 | 8 Minute Read
The inaugural Better With Less Design Challenge was created to find new environmentally friendly and functional packaging solutions for some of the world’s most frequently used and fastest growing types of consumer packages. Organized by Metsä Board, the European producer of premium fresh fiber paperboards, an international jury including renowned packaging design experts from various fields related to packaging, design, brand strategy and innovation was convened.
This year’s overall winner was Iiro Numminen’s brilliant bubble wrap alternative, "Stretching Inner Part,” a corrugated box with an insert that attaches to the shipped product and eliminates the need for plastic reinforcement of the popping variety.
After the judging concluded and the finalists chosen, a roundtable discussed what they saw as well as the challenges facing the packaging community when it comes to sustainability and innovation.
What are the most important elements that you are looking for when judging these entries?
John B. Mahaffie: I want to see a design that acknowledges and responds to the larger product/package system and enables greater sustainability.
Peter Désilets: Functionality, easy to understand concept, usability and expected demand by the consumer. And, of course, does this solution have a big effect on sustainability or is it a small, improved detail?
Terri Goldstein: Revolutionary solutions that bring ease and convenience to peoples’ lives and make them feel good about their responsible brand choices.
Have you been impressed or inspired by the submissions? If so, why or why not?
Cyril Drouet: More than 300 entries from all across the globe are truly incredible, and seeing so many designers passionate and driven to change the packaging world with better solutions is truly inspiring for our future.
Peter Désilets: The ones that focused on major problems – such as excess material or the emotional involvement of consumers were interesting and could be developed further.
Terri Goldstein: The ones that stood out filled a specific need that was previously being unmet, described in detail how the invention was sustainable and addressed potential questions/concerns in the description.
How can designers and brands work together more effectively to come up with solutions?
John B. Mahaffie: It will allow us to move to the next level. Only through joint exploration can we look at the wider context, understand the possibilities and learn by finding inspiration from parallel and even distant places. For example, drawing on nature, harking back to old approaches, and discovering things from other cultures all can inform and inspire thinking.
Marianne R. Klimchuk: There are endless opportunities for collaboration. Our collective challenge is to advance packaging design while reducing our impact on the environment.
Terri Goldstein: Brands are looking for innovative designs, yes, but they are primarily concerned with saving money. The true benefit needs to be communicated via the storyline that will be communicated via social media channels.
Are consumers demanding change? If so, how is that going to impact what we see from package design?
John B. Mahaffie: Their preference for packaging choices may or may not be a personal one, but required by their municipality. Then, it becomes part of their daily lives. Additionally, “wrap rage” endures. Packaging complaints are nearly universal. A low-grade rebellion is ever present, driven by struggles with packaging.
Cyril Drouet: Consumer awareness and commitment towards sustainable packaging has increased, especially with stories such as the amount of plastic in the ocean. Many brands are making the shift to more sustainable packaging to meet consumers’ expectations, influence consumer purchase decisions and build brand loyalty.
Marianne R. Klimchuk: Consumers expect transparency and are becoming more conscious of how the brands and products they purchase impact the environment. Sustainability and e-commerce intersecting will clearly have a significant impact on the future of millions of consumer brands.
How do you balance sustainable design with a better consumer experience?
Marianne R. Klimchuk: We can no longer consider these two factors as separate. Evidence shows that brands that are honest in their communication of their environmental mission develop a loyal and committed consumer.
Peter Désilets: I can improve sustainability by changing the material without changing consumer experience (usability, functionality) and vice-versa. But, we motivate brand owners to work on multiple levels: improving materials to be more sustainable, improve usability, and make the change visible for consumers to benefit from higher acceptance.
What role does education play with consumers when designing for sustainability?
John B. Mahaffie: It is central. To be able to educate the consumer about sustainability while also handing them a solution that works in their lives is the pathway to success.
Cyril Drouet: We need to consume responsibly – this is something many of us were never taught when we were young. If we don’t provide the consumer with viable, affordable solutions, how can they make better choices? The power rests with the consumer, but the responsibility of change rests with us.
Marianne R. Klimchuk: We do little to educate the consumer on materials, processes, and choices that are made to develop a package. Yet, we accept the finger pointing and the label that packaging is bad for the environment. We need to refocus our communication efforts to identify the choices made that make each package design a smart, sustainable solution.
Peter Désilets: Education has a key role for future changes in sustainability. When I see my children and how sensible they react to environmental things, I realize that teaching them from childhood onwards will make it easier to influence the coming generations.
Terri Goldstein: The true battlefield for branding is perception. Consumers need to understand the good they are truly doing by supporting and purchasing sustainable choices.
Cyril Drouet, Chairman of the jury, Design & Innovation Director, Metsä Board
Peter Désilets, Managing Board &Partner, pacoon AG, Strategie + Design
Terri Goldstein, Founder & Principal, The Goldstein Group, NYC
Marianne R. Klimchuk, Professor & Chair at Communication Design Pathways Department, Fashion Institute of Technology
Lars G. Wallentin, Packaging Designer & Founder, Packaging Sense (not included in roundtable)
John B. Mahaffie, Futurist, Co-founder & Principal, Leading Futurists LLC