Q&A: Jonathan Sands, Elmwood
Jonathan Sands from Elmwood: The Future of Package Design
Our fifth Q&A is with Jonathan Sands, Chairman of brand design consultancy Elmwood, the world's most effective brand design consultancy, renowned for winning more DBA (Design Effectiveness Awards) than any other consultancy in the history of the program.
Elmwood and Jonathan Sands' work have taken him all around the world working for such global companies as Walmart, Kimberly Clark, Unilever, Ann Summers, The Football Association and Cable & Wireless Communications, to name a few.
Jonathan Sands will be speaking at The Dieline Summit, our conference this Fall in Paris (Nov 16-17). We asked Jonathan a series of questions based around the theme the Dieline Summit, specifically:
What is the Future of Packaging?
JS: We are very familiar with your work and your contributions to the design world. Can you give us a short background on your journey to this very point?
JS: I joined Elmwood age 21 and became Managing Director at the age of 26. I orchestrated a management buyout at the age of 28 and next week we celebrate 25 years of independence. We opened our first overseas studio in Melbourne ten years ago and opened NYC and Singapore 5 years ago. We have been obsessed with effectiveness and top the DBA Effectiveness league table by a long way. Two personal career highlights include being given an Honorary Doctorate from Huddersfield University in 2002 (one of the top design schools in the UK) and being awarded an OBE in the Queens New Years honours list in 2011.
JS: Without giving away too much, what is your take on the future of packaging?
JS: I think we will continue to see an acceleration and greater focus on sustainability and after use of packaging. Secondly I think we will see an increased focus on ‘the second moment of truth’ rather than the first moment of truth. In other words as more products are sold online the focus will start to shift towards the ‘unveiling’ of the product and the layering of brand messages being as important as brand impact and shelf stand out.
JS: What intrigues you about design, and specifically product and packaging?
JS: I am always inspired by work that breaks the mould and represents old products in new ways. In ways where I say to myself “I wish I’d done that”. Quite often these are pieces of work that somehow simplify with style and grace an existing solution with hidden wit. Turner Duckworth’s work for Coke or Design Bridge’s work for Tate and Lyle are good examples.
JS: Our world is facing complexity that is leading to uncertainty. We are bombarded with so much information, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to retain so much. What does the next generation of design and communication design look like?
JS: For a number of years now we have been working with neuroscience to try and decode creativity to understand how the human brain is stimulated through design. The results are truly fascinating and we have learned how we can disrupt repertoire buying behaviour by arresting consumers peripheral vision and then seducing them through genetic coding! In short therefore the next generation of communication and design will be driven as much by science and scientific understanding as it is the natural intuition and craft of the designer.
JS: What excites you about the future, specifically the future of package design?
JS: The only constant in life is change. That is what excites me. Always seeing our profession evolve.
JS: What in design specifically has left a profound impact on you?
JS: The generosity of the designers spirit. It is an amazing community of inspirational people where most are very gracious with their time to share their thoughts and ways of working. I have learned so much from my peers and many have become lifelong friends.
JS: With your talk at the Dieline Summit, what lasting impact do you want to leave on future designers, brand, and product creators?
JS: I’d like to be able to share some new ways of thinking (Top line on our findings working with neuroscience to decode creativity) as well as share some of the lessons I have learned over 35 years in the industry to enable and encourage the next generation to take our industry and their businesses forward.