As Christian Lank browsed the washing powder shelves at his local supermarket, he couldn’t help but think, “Why is it all so white?” Apparently Christian, a Junior Designer in our Amsterdam Studio, was in the right frame of mind, as this thought inspired a design that has since been nominated for the BNO Packaging Talent Award.
Aimed at celebrating young creatives and design students, this award is part of Dutch Design Week, which takes place from 20th – 28th October in Eindhoven. Former Design Bridge Interns Adrià Tañà Ferrer and David Horsler have also been nominated this year.
Design Bridge Amsterdam Managing Director Frank Nas is chairman of BNO NEXTpack and actively encourages the Studio’s involvement in Dutch Design Week each year. So with the support of the directors and studio, Christian set about answering this year’s brief: design the packaging for a non-toxic, completely biodegradable washing powder for the Netherlands’ leading supermarket chain, Albert Heijn.
The detergent category was, in Christian’s opinion, lacking some vigour. How can design communicate the environmental benefits of the product without making it irritatingly earnest?
“My first observation is that there’s lots of white: too clinical, too sterile. I wanted to turn this on its head. So colour was in. I matched the colours with bold typography. I also referenced stripped-down Scandinavian beauty products and some elements found their way into the final design.”
Christian approached the design with a playful energy. He chose a wordmark that mimics the movement of water and the gentle fold of clothing. He questioned whether the format of the packaging could be changed too – and the answer was yes.
“Recyclable cartons seemed like a sensible option to package detergent. Why only use them for juice or milk? They pack tightly to save transport costs and there’s an existing recycling system for them. I added the classic detergent lid tap, so it reads as detergent on the shelf.”
The result is unexpected for the sustainable FMCG category: bright, fun and engaging. A good fit for Albert Heijn, who he believes are playful with their house brands, giving each product identity without disappearing into a sea of sameness.
“I purposefully avoided white, brown or green. These are known triggers for sustainable products so I pumped up the colours for a sense of play, and to do something that really stood out.”
Christian hopes that sustainable and renewable packaging will move away from this expected earth-wind-water palette. He hopes in future, it goes without saying, that all products are environmentally responsible so that it no longer has to be stated on the packaging. And as a designer starting out in his career, he also hopes to learn more about the trend of design rebellion.
Most of all, he hopes packaging for these kinds of products will evolve into reusable items that live in homes and are refilled as and when necessary. Much like Christian’s entry, his future is looking bright.
“I’m Danish, so I think I’ve naturally inherited some discreet Scandi design habits, but I don’t feel defined by them. Living in Amsterdam, I know I’m opening myself up to more opportunities to grow and adapt as a designer – and isn’t that the point, after all? I don’t take myself too seriously and I don’t think anyone should.”
Keep an eye on our blog and social media for further updates from Dutch Design Week.