Design = Telling a Story

Today I had my first packaging design class. I'm especially excited for this course because CMU doesn't offer packaging design. I expect it will be a challenge for me because packaging brings together many design disciplines like product design and graphic design as well as concepts related to sustainability, economics, engineering, and marketing. Packaging is much more complicated than simply putting something in a box (or even a pretty box). It contains, protects, preserves, transports, describes, and sells products. 

One of my favorite moments from class was when my professor, Jordi Ros, told us that design is storytelling. I have always believed this to be true, which is why I call myself a storyteller. Still, I thought Jordi articulated the metaphor particularly well and in a way that applies to packaging.  

Here are the story elements of every great design:

  • characters — the client, user, and non-user
  • stage — the context, e.g. public versus private
  • scene — the user experience, i.e. how people use a product
  • script — the initial conflict and how the design solves it

Our first project is to create packaging for a line of bath & beauty products for an existing brand. The twist is that the brands we have to choose from are completely unrelated to bath & beauty (I'm doing a Spanish shoe company called Camper). This challenge requires us to look deeply into the existing brand values and aesthetics, and translate them into a packaging system that has never been created before. The first step is to research the brand, which requires me to buy new shoes...right? :P More to come!