Pack of the Month: IKI Wants To Change The Way We Do Toothpaste

by Bill McCool on 07/30/2020 | 4 Minute Read

The white whale big toothpaste has been chasing doesn't revolve around nailing the perfect, minty aftertaste, nor is it getting that fifth dentist to sign onto your product—it’s creating a recyclable tube. While brands have made some headway in recent years, the problem is that the Colgate's and Tom's of the world haven't been that creative when it comes to reengineering the packaging.

So why not do away with the tube entirely?

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Some brands are already onto this, like those toothpaste tablets that you pop in your mouth and then start brushing, though some consumers think those gritty bits are a bridge too far for their preferred, optimal cleaning vehicle.

IKI, however, will give you the same toothpaste you know and love, but it comes in a refillable pump. Designed by Valencia’s Tatabi Studio during our seemingly never-ending pandemic lockdown, this conceptual household necessity gets reimagined entirely with a gorgeously designed container made from recycled plastic with a baked-clay texture. 

We spoke with designer and illustrator Elena Sancho of Tatabi Studio about their toothpaste concept and the inspiration for their sustainable design.

Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

This project is a concept born out of the COVID-19 lockdown. The idea was to redesign household objects and give them a conceptual and graphic turn. At this time, the clients were our followers, and through social media, they made the decisions about the brand name, logo, and packaging. It was a very interesting experience!

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What inspired you to create a refillable toothpaste?

As designers, we can be part of an Eco-change, creating brands and packaging that’s more environmentally friendly. One of the most useful ways to support this cause is to reduce the amount of packaging per customer use. For that reason, IKI is a refillable toothpaste. You just have to turn the bottom of the product over and change the toothpaste.

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What was it about the Menorca Coves that inspired the outer packaging?

When we create a brand, we think of a personal experience, a place, or a landscape. We find it much easier to design with a clear image in mind. In this case, we loved the moment of bathing in a cove in Menorca. The tranquility, freshness, and nature that surround that moment, and how the sun shines softly on the sand as well as the sound of the waves breaking against the rocks.

Menorca is a beautiful, peaceful island, where the environment has been well respected. It represents all the values we were looking for: sustainability, nature, freshness, and elegance.

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What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with IKI's packaging, and how did you accomplish it?

Our goal was to create a brand that is as sustainable as possible, while both elegant and relaxed. We wanted to break with classic toothpaste and find a different format that would be very comfortable and beautiful. We want people to be proud to have it in their bathroom.

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What materials did you use for the dispenser and the toothpaste refills?

In this project, there was no budget or client, so we were free to design the packaging that we loved. We decided to use recycled plastic containers with a baked clay texture. The range of colors represents the sea, and the shape of the container is inspired by a seagull.

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What was the most challenging part of this project?

IKI was born during the Covid-19 lockdown. During those weeks in Spain, we could not leave home, and we were working without being able to make mockups or visit suppliers. For the photos, we had to do work wonders. Luckily I had my flashes and the camera at home!

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If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

We have always thought that tube toothpaste is very inconvenient to use. That is why we love the new IKI format, and it’s very comfortable to use. We love its soft and simple shapes. It is very elegant, like a perfume.

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Has anyone approached you about making the design concept a reality?

Our followers on social media were the clients in this project. We gave them different options, and they made the final decision. They were very helpful! Also, during the process, we were lucky to have Josep Pedro on the team. He wrote to us on Instagram to collaborate on the project, and he provided great ideas from the point of view of industrial design and renders.

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