The Dieline Package Design Conference, Chicago – Day 1

Published:  June 27, 2011
Lee Barnsley
The Dieline Package Design Conference, Chicago – Day 1

I never thought I’d actually get here after all the talk of ash clouds and flight delays, but it seems that the design gods were shining on me Tuesday afternoon, as my plane took off without a hitch. I could write an entire piece on the service and branding of United Airlines as they merge with Continental, but that’s a whole other subject.

Now, if you’ve never been to Chicago let me give you some idea… it’s BIG. The buildings are big, the food is big, the people are big, the sports teams are big, the modern art sculpture known to the locals as ‘The Bean’ is very big. You kind of get the idea now.

I’m here to attend what they are calling ‘The world’s first packaging design conference.” The Dieline Packaging conference is part of the HOW Design Live conferences and features speakers from all over the world, such as Jonathan Ford from Pearlfisher, who worked with Jamie Oliver to create his Jme brand and Turner & Duckworth who completed the refresh of Coca-Cola a few years ago and won the first Cannes Lions Grand Prix for packaging design. Plus there are other leading names such as Moira Cullen, Christine Mau and Jack Bredenfoerder from Landor, who is one of the world’s leading colour forecasters and strategists.

Day 1

Plenty of goodies from Day 1

Creating engaging design through our use of history
The first day started with a talk from Michael Colton and Rob Swan of Brandimage, Chicago. They demonstrated how to merge form, function and aesthetics into designs that become elevated above what you merely see. They also showed some interesting examples of how culturally resonant design languages incite consumer emotion and spur action and ultimately brand growth.

A great example they showed was something as simple as a Ming Vase (which was traditionally used to carry water), this gave birth to Dutch Pottery and moved away from it’s water roots. But what luxury Spanish Water brand Font Vella have done is borrow heavily from this influence and that gives their designs a whole new meaning that roots it in history and culture.

Ming Vase (left) Dutch pottery (right)

Font Vella

Font Vella

However, Seattle based artist Charles Krafft took this one step further and created some pieces that takes porcelain to a whole new level…

Predicting Colour trends
Next up was Jack Bredenfoerder, Design Director of Landor, Cincinnati. If you’re one of those people who spends some of your days just browsing through Pantone books and colour libraries, or maybe you love arranging your underwear drawer by colour and your t-shirt collection in colour order, then Jack’s the kind of person you’d love to meet. He lives colour, breathes colour, researches colour, but more importantly he forecasts what colours are going to be in fashion in the next 12 months, even two years ahead.

So how can we track colour ourselves without investing thousands of dollars in research. Well it’s not actually as difficult as you might think. Fashion is one of the world’s leading forecasters of colour and you’ve only got to look at the runways and award shows to see what fashion designers are predicting.

Another great tip is to look at car manufacturers. Car companies spend millions of dollars each year trying to predict what the ‘in colour’ will be in five years time. Just call into your local car showroom and pick up as many brochures as you can. Easy.

If you can get your hands on a copy of Jack 2011 forecast, I’d recommend it. It’s got some really interesting insights.

Lessons from the past
Last up on day one was Richard Shear, Principal of The Shear Partnership. Richard had some very interesting things to talk about, but he mainly talked about a man called Josiah Wedgwood. Now you’re probably asking who the hell is he? Well to put it in simple terms, he was the Steve Jobs of the 18th Century. I won’t bore you with too much detail, believe me when I say that their business vision and practices are pretty damn close. Who knows, perhaps they are the same person? He also talked about Coco Chanel and the impact she had on the perfume industry, but most people already know that story.

I will however share this bit of Michael’s wisdom.. If you look at the brands that have really stood out and been a success, they have been brands that have refused to conform to normality. In essence, elegance is the refusal to stay ordinary.”

Check back soon for a report back about talks from Michael Peck (the man responsible for the Starbucks redesign that was talked about so much recently) and Moira Cullen (who has been responsible for the rejuvenating of brands such as Coca-Cola, Hershey’s and Hallmark).

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