Sequential, Performative & Temporal Thinking by Richard Baird for BP&O

This post is a provocation to think more about sequence, time and space within packaging design. To draw a joy from the often overlooked and banal necessities of packaging, to elevate details such as the mechanism of opening into a spatial and performative moment or the sequencing of information as a mediation of time by the designer to build to a product, to layer it with an intangible value.

Packaging is an experience. It is interactive. This is an elementary assertion. Its exterior design may catch the eye, tell a story, secure and move a product, however, rarely is packaging design considered as a sequential and performative action in space and time, a motion and transition between exterior and interior by way of mechanism, augmented by colour, texture, smell, text and graphic language. The notion of post-consumptive value, and performative, spatial and temporal considerations are often marginalised, yet offer a vast array of opportunities for a designer to elevate an experience, to generate social engagement (and movement online), to build in further value, beyond the surface. Apple could be cited as a good example. The packaging aligns with the design craft of its products, the ease of their use and seamless intersection of and transition between materials. Even with this significant example, we see so few examples of this elsewhere. The material is often a final flourish, an elevation of the graphic, not as a critical and essential part of product or as an extension of brand story.

Good examples would be the layered cards of A.N Other by Socio Design or the secondary use of packaging for Chaos. The latter’s mix of utility, material language and further use is intelligent. It entangles product and packaging. Packaging itself has a voice, speaking of the value of the product within not just materially, but conceptually, referencing cultural stories of hidden valuables inside books. Further examples would be the mechanism used by Commission within the tags for Rimowa and the sliding draw of Honom by Folch. Each requires an action and by extension a performance, an thoughtful mechanism and reveal.

Is packaging opened like a book? Is this a visual trick, serving only a material distinction, or does this allude to or precede an engaging story? Is information released through layers over time. Is there a juxtaposition and story in the layers of packaging, in the transition from one material to another, a Russian doll of communicative and haptic experience like Bedow’s work for Nunchi. This is an untapped landscape of opportunity. The banal and everyday mechanism of opening, the careful sequencing of information, reconfigured and transposed into a new context to delight and build story. Read more texts → here.

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