Packaging designers clash over specialisms

There is no such thing as a packaging designer and designers should avoid specialising, according to FutureBrand consumer brands division creative director Bill Wallsgrove.

Creative consultant Allison Miguel, former Coley Porter Bell creative director, argues there is a strong need for specialisation in the industry. She says that too many consultancies are “jacks-ofall-trades and masters of none”.

These opposing views clashed on Monday night at a Packaging Solutions Advice Group debate, “This house believes that packaging was OK until packaging designers came along”.

The future is in brand design all-rounders with skills encompassing packaging design, rather than designers specialising in particular areas, claims Wallsgrove.

He believes too many trained packaging designers are handicapped by over-specialising and called for designers to become more eclectic and understand that packaging is just one element of brand communication.

“Our clients usually want one consultancy to cover all aspects of a brand identity job, which may or may not include packaging. They want brand designers with a holistic view,” says Wallsgrove.

But Miguel argues that the design industry requires specialists who truly understand particular disciplines and that these designers are better qualified to challenge traditional thinking.

Packaging design is becoming more sophisticated and packaging is having to work harder as more brands emerge. Packaging designers must immerse themselves in the subject to understand it completely, says Miguel.

“If designers do not fully engage themselves with a discipline they will miss its subtleties. A dedicated packaging designer will have much more confidence when talking to clients,” she adds.

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