Interview 3 on the state of packaging – 2015 is with Steven Heller.
Steven wears many hats (in addition to the New York Yankees): For 33 years he was an art director at the New York Times, originally on the OpEd Page and for almost 30 of those years with the New York Times Book Review. Currently, he is co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author Department, Special Consultant to the President of SVA for New Programs, and writes the Visuals column for the New York Times Book Review.
1. If one significant factor in packaging has changed in the last 3 years, what would it be?
Certainly not less of it. But recyclable paper is my guess.
2. Do you see pouch packaging (flexible packaging) as a viable replacement for folding cartons?
Yes. But I don’t know enough about it. At least I can throw cartons into recycling.
3. Among the various forms of laundry detergent packaging there are plastic containers with small colorful pods containing detergent. Recently these have been ingested by children and pose a serious health risk. Should the package be redesigned with stronger security measures in place?
I would hope so. Kids get into a lot of things. But so do adults. I’m amazed how many new packages for detergent there are. I figured it was just a way of capturing an audience that has only two real choices in the world: paper or plastic.
4. We see chewing gum go from simple wrappers to bigger packaging with more stylish graphics. With the product basically still the same, how does simple and basic packaging compete?
Its all about market share. Perhaps the original Wrigley’s Gum will be quaint enough to be cool again.
5. I see a number of juice boxes and pouches competing in the children’s category. Do you see winner in this market?
I don’t look. I remember living in Sweden for a short time as a kid in the 60s and getting one of those triangular juice packs. I opened it the wrong way and it spilled all over. I think that’s the baseline, a juice pack should not spill.
6. Now that vapor, or non-smoke tobacco products are taking off, what role do you see packaging playing?
I like the European approach. THIS STUFF WILL KILL YOU. There should be more of that for tobacco and vapor.
7. Today’s electronic market is flooded with smartphones and some of the packaging has gotten fairly complex. Why is it then that Apple’s iPhone packaging has become simpler and more minimal? Does their packaging not play a key role anymore?
I used to keep all my iPhone boxes. Then it was time to move and they were a luxury I couldn’t afford to take with me. The box has some kind of resonance and Apple’s are just plain elegant.
8. With all the coffee we consume through venues like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, should we expect these companies to look into more permanent drinking cups and lead the way in doing away with disposable cups? Or charge more for such?
Good point. Frankly, I don’t go to either because I don’t drink coffee. But I also recall in Sweden that the “beer man” would come around twice a week to fill jugs with beer and other liquids. Remember Seltzer deliveries. Permanent is better. But we are not in the slow food country, are we?
9. What material do you see that is on the forefront in the packaging industry?
I don’t have a clue. AIR??
10. What is the least desirable package you have seen or experienced?
Everything made from styrofoam. I’m sure we’re all getting ill from that shit.
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