Packaging – More Than Meets The Eye

Prompt Design

Written by Somchana Kangwarnjit, Executive Creative Director of Prompt Design.

Packages are materials that cover or hold the products, including the containers used in the delivery of goods from manufacturers to consumers, with primary purposes to protect and maintain the products. Moreover, packaging is one of the processes in the production that serves marketing and maintenance purposes. Nowadays, packages are applied and used for many other purposes that are different from usage designed by designers and marketers of the products. Such usage is unintentional but interestingly contributes to creative thoughts that could be applied to packages.

Mountain Dew bottles, with the unique characteristic that glows in the dark, are widely used by the mahouts to hang on the elephants’ back in order to increase visibility while elephants walk in traffic. People starts using the bottles as extra signal lights, not only on elephants, but truck drivers also utilize Mountain Dew bottles to give their vehicles more visibility.

Apart from that, PET bottles have been widely utilized by consumers, for examples, in form of dustpans, flowerpots, and animal traps. PET bottles are also greatly utilized when Thailand faced a serious flood catastrophe the previous year, where they were creatively transformed into boats and life vests. In the other countries like Philippines, people build schools using PET bottles to replace the schools that are destroyed from typhoon attacks every year.

Another interesting idea is Solar Bottles made of used plastic bottle. Starting with filling the bottle with water that is mixed with chlorine which will help preventing moss from growing inside the bottle, seal the bottle with the cap, glue and install the top of bottle with zinc roof or roof tiles, and finally sunlight will be reflected and shine onto area beneath the roof. It is very interesting energy saving innovation.

In medical service, Trang Hospital (Thailand) makes Short Leg Slabs from saline bottles for patients suffering from Foot Drop. This tool could replace 1,200 baht worth Short Leg Slabs available in the market.
Even if we cannot find the certain source of these intellectual ideas, we could analyze and explain the factors that contribute to the innovative use of packages as follows;

1. Creativity: Since packages could replace or be used as if it was ‘a product’ itself, as exemplified above, Short Leg Slabs made of used saline bottles do not only help reducing expense for patients, they also evidence that packages could be utilized and reused.

2. Shape and Durability of Packages: Packages could be used as replacement to other objects, for examples, flowerpot, dustpan, container, and animal traps. Whilst the main purposes of packages are to contain the products, people can modify and add more functions to them for different purposes.

3. Adaptation: There is a huge number of products available in the market today, as well as packages. Decomposition of packages like PET bottle takes very long time therefore consumers adapt themselves with increasing number of these packages. They start experimenting ways to use the packages more effectively in everyday life. Such adaptation has been repeated and copied by one consumer to another, give rise to far more innovative ideas, such as house, furniture, and lamps made of bottles.

Anyhow, no matter how packages could contribute some inspiration or new ideas, reusing the packages does not help reducing the amount of garbage. Waste disposal only solves the problem at the end of the note. Plastic packages in particular, cannot be decomposed completely within short period of time. It is necessary that new generation designers pay great attention to how far the packages could function, or apply the creative use of packages by consumers to the development in package design to furnish the packages with more functions. New campaigns may be initiated, for examples, water bottles that could be used in more creative ways, which would attract the new generation consumers with green thoughts.

About the author
Somchana Kangwarnjit, Executive Creative Director at design firm Prompt Design from Thailand. he founded Prompt Design, helping his clients to build brands and businesses by delivering new experiences in strategies and design executions. Prompt Design’s clients include Nestlé, Pfizer, Kimberly-Clark, Diageo Moët Hennessy, CP, Singha Corporation, Yuasa , Berli Jucker and many top client in Thailand.

He is regularly invited to be a committee or jury member for design competitions and often serves as a guest columnist and professor for many publishers and top universities.