Millo's Blender Gets Futuristic Packaging That Thinks Ahead
by Rudy Sanchez on 12/18/2020 | 4 Minute Read
While many appliances in our homes have improved and gotten smarter over the years, for the past few decades, electric blenders have, for the most part, remained the same. It’s certainly not for lack of room for improvement—blenders can benefit from new-fangled technology like updated controls, wireless functionality, and, of course, a smartphone app.
Millo is a device that is almost unfair to call a blender, as it is a top-down, soup-to-nuts reimagining of the ubiquitous kitchen device. It’s not quite a Star Wars replicator, but it wouldn’t be hard to imagine Guinan keeping one behind the bar at Ten-Forward either. Rather than use conventional controls such as buttons and knobs, Millo comes controlled by a touch-sensitive ring and app. It is also portable with a built-in battery that is recharged via USB-C because you never know when smoothie time calls. Millo uses a patented brushless magnetic engine, which allows the base to transfer torque to the cup wirelessly. Plus, the blades are included in the cup, making for a mostly mess-free clean-up.
“Millo blender is a blender from the future. Future blenders need future packaging. How should it look like?" That is the question designer Džiugas Valanauskas asked of the brand.
“Since the first version of the prototype packaging was already done, we created a vision for its redesign, completely recyclable packaging made from both renewable resources and already recycled materials, which do not cause the customer a headache during the sorting process," said Juozas Baranauskas, sustainable development manager and packaging specialist on the project.
The packaging needed to befit a high-tech, well-designed device, as well as look the part in preserving our actual future by being kind to the environment. The team considered strategies like using biodegradable materials and utilizing as few substrates as possible, acknowledging the recycling process itself, and designing the box so that parts could get easily separated. The package also uses as little ink as possible, another deliberate design choice.
The chief material used is a natural, FSC-certified REACH EU compliant card stock from Winter & Company called Wibalin Buckram, which, apart from being fully recyclable, has a premium-looking texture, contributing to the luxurious design. To give the packaging stiffness and structural strength, they applied a 100% recycled premium board from Eska, and the textile ribbon (always a sign of a premium product) came from the same Wibalin Buckram, thinner and in green. That makes the packaging easier to recycle and eliminates the need to remove it, unlike a traditional textile ribbon. Corrugated cardboard also helps keep the Millo product snug inside.
“Less is more," said Valan?auskas. "The product itself has clear, organic shapes, and we chose a cube that presupposes harmony, clarity, and simplicity. Because the product has touch control sensor buttons, the same concept gets transferred to the packaging. The shape of the control base is simulated on the main plane, done with a three-dimensional congress and gloss varnish effects. The principles of cleanliness, minimal and clear design also get transferred to the inside of the package.”
Ultimately, the packaging also needed to reflect the values and concept of the product and the brand itself. And that’s why they delved deep when it came to making Millo’s packaging recyclable, bringing in expertise in design, materials, and waste management to the project to achieve the ambitious goal of a completely recyclable vessel.
"I once again discovered that collaboration and effective project management together is the key to success in projects where there are many parties involved,” Juozas said. “Of course, you can't deliver results without the trust of the brand. The client was motivated, giving me the freedom to transparently involve all parties in the project development, to research, and to experiment," he added.
But that's also part of the process brands must undergo when collaborating on the recyclability of packaging, ensuring that every piece gets diverted to where it needs to go. That is often a critical step that gets overlooked when designing, and creatives need to immerse themselves in how these materials get sorted when they land at a material recycling facility, even if it's just a prototype.
In the end, you have to show them what you're working with and ask the tough questions.
"What would you do with this?" asked Juozas. "Would this go to incineration, or would you sell it for recycling?’”