Designing the Packaging for the Most Prestigious Packaging Design Award

By: Evelio Mattos

Where do you begin when you’re asked to design the packaging for packaging’s most prestigious award? You start at the end.

You begin with the unveiling experience, the reveal, and its presentation to the winner every time the box is opened. The team at FORMA Structural Packaging created the angled box to mirror The Dieline Award. The interactive box’s lid hinges open to raise the inner platform and present the award to the winner. FORMA Structural Packaging teamed up with Design Packaging to layout the visual design, and fine tune material selection. The Neenah Environments paper was hot stamped and all-over embossed with a cross hatch pattern adding relief and texture the the essentialist design aesthetic. Design Packaging’s production team hand assembled each box with razor-sharp 90º edges, and a laser engraved foam insert to protect the award with precision.

Completing the unveiling story of the keepsake packaging, each is stamped with Andrew Gibbs’ signature and personal message to the winners.

The Dieline: How did you work backwards to design The Dieline Awards box?

Evelio Mattos: Our structural packaging design process begins by establishing the desired experience at the final reveal. In the case of the Dieline Awards, the recipients may not have been present at the awards ceremony, and did not have the opportunity to be presented the award by Andrew himself. Our goal was to have the packaging not only hold the award, but present it and create a memorable moment of interactive delight. From that experience, we mapped out the complete process of where the user would hold the packaging, what they would feel, what packaging elements they would be in contact with and establishing a hierarchy that focused on the essentials of the process.

A big part of this experience is the anticipation and reveal for the recipients. What elements play a part in this, and how did you decide on and refine them?

Evelio Mattos: Generating anticipation in a packaging reveal is usually created by a layered process—in the case of the Dieline Awards box, we allowed the weight of the award to establish that sensation. Typically a lid is easily raised in which case another layer of packaging is required to create a sense of anticipation. With the Dieline Awards box, the lid is tied to the award itself, allowing the weight of the award to unexpectedly slow the mechanics of the lifting process down and adding a sense of mystery to the reveal. The embossing texture applied to the lid and base is geometric in nature adding to the sharp sensation of the folds and corners designed into the box structure. The angled box lid is derived from the award itself that shares the same angle as the box, informing the user’s approach.

The platform is raised by a mechanism attached to the lid and insert, early in our process we prototyped several constructions that allowed for this movement, each with their pros and cons. The final design ended up being the one that allowed the most weight to be felt in the unveiling process by the user.

Through every round of prototypes, we continued to edit any non-essential elements, both tactile and auditory. Initially we had applied the embossing texture to the inner frame, but the sound of the friction between the frame and base was gritty and rough. So that quickly found its way to the cutting room floor, replaced by the smooth natural finish of Neenah’s Environment Paper which gave a subtle wind-like sound against the embossed texture of the base.

The way the box opens and lifts is truly impressive. How did you come up with this, and how did you achieve this structure?

Evelio Mattos: Honestly, our team at FORMA Structural Packaging experiments with structure 24/7, and on the days we play and explore packaging we develop many ways to interact with packaging that gets filed into our library. A box lift is nothing new, we’ve used more complex versions in fragrance packaging utilizing ribbon pulley systems, or similar folded panels to create the lift. The fact that the experience we were designing for was the “presentation” of the award is what led us to this structural decision. The 1.75” lifting motion is exaggerated by the angled lid and the subtle cuff, creating an added sense of drama in the reveal.

Tell us a little bit more about the fine details that make this awards box so special.

Evelio Mattos: The matte silver foil against the white paper creates a focal point in the minimalist visual design, allowing the award to remain the hero while directing the user in the process. The sharp 90º corners of the box are created by a mitered edge around the perimeter of the structure, and wrapping the crisp edges in a heavy weight paper to accent the sharpness of the design. We define luxury by the details, materials and craftsmanship.

How did the actual award influence the design and structure of the awards box?

Evelio Mattos: The award is the hero, always. To allow the box to take a secondary role, we chose to create a white stage for the award. The angled design of the box, is also derived from the award itself, but more than that, the box’s depth allows the award to lay flat in the box. Andrew’s personalized note to the recipient, and the frame created by the packaging design allow this box to become a keepsake and be displayed with the award in any studio setting.

Evelio Mattos
Evelio Mattos is the Creative Director of both Design Packaging Inc., and FORMA Structural Packaging. His reputation as one of the leading structural and visual packaging designers for international retail brands has led to collaborative partnerships spanning industries from tech, fashion & beauty, to include wine & spirits.

His team of directors, graphic artists, industrial designers, and Creative Production artists, are involved in the development of powerful user-centric branded retail experiences. Together they strategically identify packaging users to include distribution centers, fulfillment staff, retail associates, and the ultimate user…the consumer.

Evelio’s experience in streamlining and retooling manufacturing processes has led to launching the first ever “Creative Production” team. The team’s focus is twofold: Structural Functionality, and Print Optimization. By applying these two principles, his team is able to deliver the designer’s on-screen expectation to an in-hand experience.

“Good design creates opportunity, the parameters we set define the space in which we design.”