Design Today: Kaleidoscope
Kaleidoscope partnered with the Chicago-based honey producer, Two Brothers, to brand and package their line of pure liquid gold honey. Their philosophy derived from sustainability with a big emphasis on urban homesteading. Broadly defined, homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. With the commercial marketplace being saturated with expected honey packaging and design, we knew we had to build a compelling brand story, strategy and packaging that would stand out from the crowd.
The final packaging actually puts the homesteader philosophy into practice and provides a compelling “raison d’etra” for the name. We designed a sustainable package made from a recycled, clear wine bottle, cut at an angle to form a new shaped vessel and packaging that serves several functions: makes pouring honey functionally easy, uses a natural cork and a label designed on seeded stock which, when planted will flourish into wild flowers and attract honey bees for pollination.
In this interview, we sit down and talk to Liz Fisher, Creative Director of Kaleidoscope about the Always Bee Project and the process of designing sustainable packaging.
What is the role sustainability plays in your design process?
Sustainability is always considered as part of our design process at Kaleidoscope, including reductions of packaging materials, minimizing shipping costs and using recyclable materials. In the case of Always Bee, we were mindful of the need to create a brand that stood for sustainability and that could educate people through other platforms beyond just the packaging. We thought about the post-consumer stage ‘upcycling’ - using other materials more than once and how the end user can reuse again and again. We always try to deliver sustainable options without compromising the brand.
What were some of the challenges this adds?
For Always Bee, we were very mindful of the production process. This is a small batch producer of organic honey. The tooling and facilities required are pretty minimal. We needed to keep that in mind. We had to deliver a solution that the producer could actually support yet still aligned to the roots of the brand. But if it escalated into a mass-produced product – this would obviously increase the cost and sacrifice the sustainability of the brand.
How did you arrive at the final design?
Using our methodology, tools and design thinking, we used a very iterative process with the client to develop a name and compelling brand strategy. We interviewed the client several times to dig deep and understand his needs and what he truly wanted as an end result. His passion for sustainability, the love and appreciation for bees, and the need to package his ‘liquid gold’ in a structure that not only showed off the product but made it easy to pour was our starting point.The need to tell a compelling story turned into demonstrating a philosophy based around the lifestyle of the ‘homesteading’ generation.
In brief, what is your philosophy when it comes to packaging?
We always try to understand the complexity of a problem, including the who, what, where, when and why. In doing so, we can develop a brand strategy with a reason to buy into the brand, stand out from the crowd, and ensure it is approachable, believable and doable.
How does the nature of the project drive your design?
Every project is different – fortunately, not “one size fits all” but ultimately it comes back to knowing your consumer for that particular category or product. In the case of Always Bee, we didn’t let sustainability prohibit us, so we were able to hero the product and let the natural substrates of the cork and the seeded paper work with us to our advantage, every aspect of the design needed to live up to the strategy.
Where do you find your inspiration?
In a very saturated honey category, the first step was to look at what had already been done before and highlight the opportunities. At Kaleidoscope we work together in teams. It is a very collaborative culture, and in turn, this inspires purposeful design, dialog and research for all of our projects.
What do you consider a sustainable design?
What is end of life? Sustainable can mean so much to so many people in different ways. The packaging structure and materials, how it can be recycled, how it is resourceful, the story of the product and how it is sourced, down to the inks and the paper/materials it is printed on. There is a whole journey to a product: Is it re-purposed, compostable, or re-usable? Many products may not actually be sustainable in the long-term when you factor in the distribution and every touch point of the manufacturing process to it ending up in your home. There is still a lot to be learned about this topic and we are only just starting to make consumers aware.
What kind of projects are you most excited to work on?
Anything new. We love a challenge and the diversity of different brands and categories. If you can give one piece of advice to a prospective packaging designer what would it be? Push your thinking. Great design has a compelling story and must have a reason to believe. It’s not just about designing a pretty pack. If you’re considering becoming a packaging designer, demonstrate you understand the who, what, where, when and why as part of the rationale behind a great design.
Sustainable packaging will most likely see a design overhaul over the next few years. As we develop more sustainable materials – think biodegradable, composting and recycling - they are being converted into packaging structures that are familiar to us. This poses issues in compost and recycling streams when it comes to sorting. Some perfectly acceptable packages will get thrown out because the centers can’t distinguish between the non-environmentally friendly packs. What is exciting you about the future of sustainabilityIt is constantly changing. New materials and science are emerging all the time as well as a shift in lifestyle thinking. The Sustainable Packaging Coalition is helping to drive the conversation around packaging. In addition, people are slowly understanding that we can all do something to give back and contribute to the environment. A new wave of savvy consumers are wanting to know more about sustainability. They are reading labels and caring about where their products come from. Ultimately they are willing to pay that little bit extra for innovative products and this is opening the door to new thinking and opportunities for design and branding consultants.
With the Always Bee design, we have created a brand that stands for a philosophy, and ultimately, we hope we can truly start making a difference and highlight the flight of the honey bees!