The Packaging Problem

The Packaging Problem


Packaging is a problem. It surrounds almost every product we make. It is also mostly single use and too often plastic. It becomes a mountain of waste. But what if there was another way. UTS honours graduate in Industrial Design, Sari Tredinnick’s capstone project, Packed Into The Packaging, rethinks the packaging problem and offers a new way. As Sari explains …

‘The core concept of Packed Into The Packaging aims to reduce packaging waste by incorporating the packaging into the product itself in ways that adhere to the unique functionality of the specific product and its packaging. This developed from insights gained from observations and interviews centred around the functionality and rituals of use of one appliance, the toaster, as it was one of the most commonly used appliances, its functionality was simple to use and similar across brands. From these user insights three sub-concepts were developed these are as followed.

Incorporating the protective element of the packaging into the product (Fig. 1), is based on insights that users commonly perceived packaging as a protective casing against damage and that users generally kept their toasters on the countertops after use, but were concerned about dust and cockroaches entering the toaster and damaging it. Therefore, the toaster is housed in a robust outer shell that conveys protection through its size, ribbing and textured finish, which emulates paper pulp, a common protective material used in packaging. The process of use further instills this security, as the toaster is pushed down within its outer casing to commence toasting, once done both the toaster and toast pops up, and when the user is finished using the toaster they push down to release it, rotate it to the opposing side, place it back into the outer casing and push down to secure it. This allows users leave their toaster out but still protect it from external elements, and the pushing down provides control by both locking the toaster or to begin toasting. Furthermore, the pop up of the toaster and its toast, exaggerates the action seen in current toaster by integrating the entire product, which is not only a distinct visual marker but also elevates the popping action of the toaster, that users outlined as an exciting aspect of the existing process.

Incorporating a secondary utility/functionality of the packaging into the product (Fig. 2), was developed from the hygienic insight of limiting external elements entering the toaster, but in a creative manner. Whereby the toaster emulates a sardine can, with its corrugated outer body that references the durability of cans to protect its contents. Furthermore, the silicone covering that is secured by an opening key commonly seen on cans, represents the opening and peeling back on the can’s lid. This not only adds another element of protection by covering the slots but also integrates the opening sensation of the toaster’s packaging into its everyday use.

Incorporating the important information, including instructions of use, and safety and care instructions onto the toaster itself (Fig. 3), is derived from the insight that users commonly required the instructions before using the appliance, but commonly discarded of both the packaging and instruction manual. Therefore, this concept integrates the protective nature of packaging through a simplistic, robust outer casing, which opens seamlessly through the exposed hinges, which reiterates the strength of the product but also makes the opening action of the integrated packing part of the everyday process. The sculptural form of the toaster emulates the upwards popping motion of toast and aims to juxtapose against the minimalist outer casing. The care and use instructions are printed on the inside of the casing, so the user can easily read the instructions when most needed, and the use instructions are pictorial to be understood quickly, whereas the care instructions are written to ensure that these are not misinterpreted.’

If you would like to contact Sari for more information or about taking this project further do so here. If you have a postgraduate design project (Masters, PhD etc) that you think needs a wider audience read this and get in touch.


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