CEO, By Benoît
Will packaging design get inspiration from product artwork and design?
After 17 years with Carré Noir, where he did design work for major French and international brands, Benoît Higel founded his own agency, By Benoît, two years ago, and positions himself as a brand author. He explains how the use of recycled materials in packaging design should grow in the coming years.
FUTURS | How do you envisage the use of recycled plastic in product design?
Benoît Higel: Today the use of recycled plastic is commonplace in product design: it can be found in furniture, eyewear, a variety of objects and even textiles. This was originally an artistic movement called "slow design" which took pride in its use of recycled materials to design furniture and exclusive or one-off pieces. This artistic approach is influencing industrial design today.
FUTURS | And what about packaging design?
It is true that we don't have any demand of this type yet, but I think the trends seen in art and product design will gradually trickle down to packaging. We already see brands thinking globally about their products' entire lifecycle, not just the packaging. For example, Coca Cola' PlantbottleTM fits this pattern: part of the plastic in the bottle comes from bio-ethanol distilled from sugar cane waste. The sugar cane is sustainably produced in Brazil and used to make Coca Cola. Danone includes 95% bio-plastic from sugar cane in its Actimel bottles. This approach will catch on more and more in the future.
Vice-président and head of creation with Carré Noir
Some plastics have the nobleness of Bakelite
As a member of Trend Observer Formes de Luxe which delivers an annual analysis of trends observed at the Salon Luxe Pack Monaco, Béatrice Mariotti gives us her view on plastics in the design of luxury market packaging.
FUTURS | How do you see plastic materials in the creation of luxury market packaging?
Béatrice Mariotti: Plastics are essential but not always recyclable and use non-renewable resources. However, in cosmetics, perfumery or wines and spirits, they offer many possibilities with exceptional finish. When we think back to what was possible for perfume bottles 20 years ago, we realise how much progress has been made. This is a dynamic sector, and there is growing move towards this material. The perfume Flower by Kenzo, with a refillable bottle is a perfect example. All this makes for better control over product life cycle.
FUTURS | Are there any plastic materials in particular which you prefer?
If I had to choose only one it would be Surlyn. The luxury sector is particular in that it sells dreams and emotion. The major brands have different ways of offering that to consumers. But the packaging, a crucial moment in the customer's contact with the product, has to be imbued with an emotional dimension without compromising its functional precision. Surlyn does this through the possibility of combinations with other materials coupled with its transparency, finishing and surfacing qualities. The Fleur de Crystal bottle by Lalique perfectly illustrates these possibilities and gives the material a certain pride. Just like Bakelite, invented at the beginning of the 20th century, Surlyn makes plastic more noble.
FUTURS | Which recent products best illustrate this material's creative posibilities?
A presentation case for Martini Royale, the Martini Circle, which contains a set of two bottles and two cocktail glasses. Only plastic, thanks to considerable moulding work, could meet our creative requirements.
Logic Design CEO
"Plastic is an essential part of food packaging"
Logic Design CEO Jérôme Lanoy looks at the advantages of plastic in food packaging. The agency, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013, has launched products such as Yoplait Zap in the late 90's, Herta Knacki Ball and Nestlé NaturNes.
FUTURS | With food spoilage prevention efforts being stepped up, what do you see as packaging's biggest benefits as a designer?
Jérôme Lanoy: The number of fresh food products has been growing for 20 years. These items are sensitive to light, heat and oxygen. Without constant developments in packaging - multi-portion, resealable, protective flexible film, etc. - they would be much more perishable. So packaging delivers a real service in terms of keeping and waste prevention.
FUTURS | How important is plastic in food packaging?
Most solutions on the food market today are made from plastic. It's in virtually every food segment, whether fresh, frozen or for cakes, sugar and honey. Plastic shell systems guarantee ripe fruit, and plastic is the standard material for water, sodas and other beverages.
FUTURS | What are its advantages as a material?
Above all its plasticity. Upstream, plastic makes savings possible on logistics over other materials. Making bottles involves transporting and storing pellets. Reels of film are used for cartons etc. With many other materials, you have to transport empty packs containing air. Plasticity lets designers be more creative thanks to a wide range of possible technologies (injection, extrusion blow moulding, thermoforming etc.), as well as an infinite range of finishes and textures. Not to mention all the features offered by laminated or flexible packaging as I mentioned before, which bring products into line with modern lifestyles.
On the other hand, plastic's industrial image is more of a drawback. That's why we're on the lookout for more bio-sourced plastic solutions.
FUTURS | Which designs are you most proud of?
The design for Herta's Knacki Ball revolutionised cocktail sausage packaging, which had always been unappealing and inconvenient, with a microwavable jar that users could place on the table. It's also a great combination of cardboard and plastic, which can be separated for sorting. The Naturness pack is a fine example of a very mature design approach. No brand had thought of launching fresh babyfood before. It was fully designed upstream and the plant was built on that basis. It's very rare in our business to produce a design that factors in every aspect - industrial, financial and social - without prior constraints.
Director and co-founder of CLTG Agency
Plastic, still dynamic and perpetually evolving
Director and co-founder of the agency CLTG, created in 1992, and recognised as the leader among global communication agencies, Louis Comolet explains how he perceives plastic in the design and creation of food packaging.
FUTURS | Is plastic absolutely essential in the design of food packaging?
Louis Comolet: It is used because it does the job well. Injection techniques give it additional functions and practical advantages: the non-spill cap, the spout and the well-known "twist and click" lids. Plastic has become essential in certain food sectors. For liquids it is the standard product for water, soda and yoghurt. It has brought about new markets such as ready-made meals and fresh ready-to-use fruit & vegetables. It has earned respect. Its versatility makes it a constantly evolving material, especially for flexible packaging, where combinations of different plastics can deliver rigidity, easy opening, a clean tear line and barrier properties.
FUTURS | Is plastic a good material for creativity?
Plastic's perpetual evolution often offers features more cheaply than other materials. However, although advertisers want innovation, they are not always prepared to pay for it. Better communication between agencies and manufacturers would get certain innovations to market quicker. We are obliged to seek out information whereas we really are prescribers. The same goes for bio-sourced plastics: we have many requests but little information on this subject, which impedes innovation.
FUTURS | Can you give us an example?
The Président butter pack is a good example. We created a service tray that resembles a butter dish with a lid. There's also the flexible pack for the Boule d'Or Mimolette cheese pack, where the plastic film imitates grease-proof paper, giving the product authenticity and transparency.