I was very much excited to kick start the year with a live project which consisted of a very new and alternative brief to anything that we’ve explored before. The brief asked that we worked in mixed groups to develop a new and quirky ‘on the go’ packaging design for a local sustainable, vegan and vegetarian food company – The Parsnipship. It was lovely that the staff from the company presented the initial introduction and brief so that we could get a real feel for who they were, what they were about and what it was they wanted of us. It was also great to see and taste the products that we were designing packaging for for similar reasons – I really appreciated and found this hugely beneficial in kick starting the project despite both themes of packaging and food/vegan food design being very new to me.
I started the project conducting huge amounts of both primary and secondary research into the various elements of the brief for example, existing food packaging examples, the company themselves, sustainability, visiting shops such as Pughs garden centre to research and gain inspiration as well as conducting a survey which focused on all consumers including vegan and vegetarians in order to gain a better understanding for the consumer and the existing market. This also helped me better understand the brief and get a feel for the way I might start designing. This research also helped me underpin what was lacking in current areas of this market as well as what could be improved on.
I thoroughly enjoyed the ideation stage of this project – I tried not to limit my ideas and be as creative as possible continuously looking back to my research for guidence and information as well as gaining feedback from my group which consisted of 2 male, BSC students and 2 female BA students. One thing I would say is that there was a fairly clear divide in the group which became more apparent as the project progressed which made communication and decision making a little difficult at times. Some team members were a lot less open to exploration and chose a final design far too early on in the process I’d say. I definitely think that we could have better explored and taken forward some of my organic shapes from the beginning and perhaps I should have pushed for this even more at the time – this element was certainly a learning curve in terms of group work and occasions when it sometimes isn’t quite as successful. I really enjoyed and appreciated the teaching styles and different inputs during this project, I felt like it was really beneficial in taking the project through the stages from research and ideation through to manufacture and final presentation. Despite designing a food packaging sounding like quite a fun and straight forward process, there were many elements that we had to consider for example, ergonomics, the display of adequate information, how the product would be accessed, how the internal product might be seen, the manufacture, build and adhesive of the product and so on… I certainly feel like we could have better clearly allocated each other roles during the project in order to ensure that all of these elements and the rest were covered and done to our best abilities rather than lying in the uncertain a lot of the time due to different members having different understandings and ideas.
Taking our decided design through to more developed stages of modelling, prototyping and testing was really exciting and far more advanced than what we had done previous. We bought one of the Parsnipship’s food products in order to test in our prototypes which was really useful as well as taking our prototypes to relevant shops such as Bean Freaks in order to test them on the shelves there and gain some feedback from the staff and customers. We also had the privilege of using PEL for the first time as a means of user testing and research which was an incredible tool to get to see and be hands on with experimenting with. We used our own images from our research to place into PEL to analyse and visualise what our product as a food packaging would look like on the shelves next to its competitors and whether consumers would be drawn to it or not (determining its potential success). This means of virtual product testing was extremely insightful and useful and certainly a big thing I have taken from this particular project.
We further experimented our designs external print and aesthetics by using various colour waves, fonts, sizes and print until we were happy with the aesthetic from a commercial, cost, sustainability and aesthetic perspective. This also gave us variation to demonstrate and pitch in our final presentation to the Parsnipship having chosen to use screen printing and die cutting as manufacturing methods with a home made sustainable PLA as an adhesive. Preparing to present back to The Parsnipship after all our development and hard work was rather daunting and felt extremely professional. We worked hard to perfect our presentation techniques, design booklet and prototypes in aim of being best organised and prepared as possible. I actually really enjoyed preparing and presenting in this way, I felt like we worked well in executing the final presentation and that it was a brilliant opportunity to practice for future opportunities.
All in all, I felt like this project was an enjoyable and interesting experience packed with lots of new information and opportunity to kick start the second year despite some of the problems previously discussed. Looking back, the project is even more appealing to me now than it was initially and I’d really like to revisit something similar in the near future in order to produce a really high quality, successful outcome. Despite this, I am pleased with mine and the groups general workload/presentation despite there being things that I would certainly revisit, improve on, work better collaboratively and change if the opportunity arose again.