Student design project proves that what’s on the outside does count

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Michelle Cometa

Students from graphic design, industrial design and packaging science entered their designs for the 2016 national Paperboard Packaging Design competition. Results will be announced in late September and highlighted at the annual Pack Expo, the professional packaging conference and trade show taking place in Chicago in November.

The packaging is as inviting as the flavored popcorn or sweet waffle cones inside.

As part of the senior-level course Packaging Design, student teams from graphic design, industrial design and packaging science created sophisticated packages for these and other products. During the class, students design packages that emphasize visual, structural, ergonomic and environmental aspects either for current products or for a fictional company.

But they must also research products to understand the marketplace and the importance of how packaging influences product placement and consumer choices, said Bill Wynkoop, adjunct faculty member in the packaging science department, part of RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology.

“The experience is meant to offer a real-world, multidisciplinary approach for each working team,” he said.

The collaboration between CAST and the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences over the past several years provides students with an opportunity to understand how designers and packaging professionals work together to influence a company’s brand and bottom line. Wynkoop, who mentors the student teams with Lorrie Frear from the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, added, “The student design solutions are fantastic.”

They are also elegant, several with an interesting historical twist.

Popcorn was an Aztec delicacy and TotoPoca means “the sound of popcorn popping.” Student-designers incorporated the concept into their package of three sample flavors—named after famous Aztec pyramids—in pyramid-shaped boxes. Eye-catching colors correlate to different herbs used such as bold red for popcorn with chili powder.

Other designs include L’Orto, a tall container holding single-serving portions of root vegetable-flavored pasta. Penny Licks refers to the one-cent ice cream cones sold in the late 19th century, and the name of the students’ company selling waffle cones. Wild Crunch, a Nature Valley granola product, was redesigned to be an interactive game for young children. OLA’s container is as colorful as the blueberries within the cereal. LeSel features chocolate covered pretzel sticks that ‘spring’ from the fancy, collectible container. Chowa, a container for ramen noodles, is a box that becomes a bowl. Buzzbee Biscuits features honey-flavored treats in a sustainable package, and the company motto, “Saving bees one biscuit at a time.”

All eight student designs are entered in the 2016 Paperboard Packaging Alliance collegiate challenge. RIT has taken the top prize four times and has had top placements in each year since the competition began in 2005.