Design in 2018 – what will packaging design look like?

As part of our series on the future of design in 2018, Pearlfisher founding creative partner and chief creative officer Karen Welman looks at what will happen in packaging over the next 12 months.

What do you think 2018 will hold for packaging design?

I think the importance and awareness of sustainability in packaging design will become paramount in 2018. Brands and designers will need to recognise the impact their actions have on the world in order to stay relevant with the increasingly environmentally-conscious consumer. Packaging designers will need to radically rethink the way they work, becoming experts in environmentally-friendly materials and production practices to ensure they can advise the brands and businesses they work with on the most sustainable solutions for their needs. Crucially, designers have an obligation to evolve traditional “sustainable design” from worthy and expected to desirable and exciting in order to change perceptions, and most importantly, brand behaviour and consumer purchasing.

What was your favourite packaging project in 2017?

My favourite packaging design from 2017 had no packaging at all. The laser-printed barcodes etched onto Marks & Spencer’s avocados were a genius way of removing wasteful, non-recyclable packaging material. As consumers become ever more conscious of their environmental footprint, they now expect brands to help them lead a more sustainable life. By doing away with the unnecessary label and utilising the existing natural packaging of the product, Marks & Spencer has introduced an innovative and effective design solution to display relevant information for shoppers. I’m really excited to see if other supermarkets and retailers embrace the same approach this year.

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  • Brea January 12, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    Great article. I too am looking forward to seeing more sustainability in packaging design. Some other packaging design trends I am looking forward to this year are holographic effects, vibrant gradients and standout shapes and materials. I think using new materials lends itself nicely to more sustainable packaging.

    I work for 99designs and we rounded up our top 10 packaging design trend predictions as well, would love to hear your thoughts on them!


  • Paul Foulkes-Arellano January 14, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    First of all huge congratulations on having The Pearlfisher Garden selected for the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This really will draw attention to a planet drowning in plastic waste.

    At A Plastic Planet we are building a database of non-plastic packaging materials, many of these biobased. We will be sharing this with the global packaging design community in the not too distant future.

    Plastic-Free Aisles are just a few weeks away.

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