A Closer Look at Chocolate Naive’s Mouthwatering Designs
By: Bill McCool
Someday, in the not too distant future, there will be a museum dedicated solely to chocolate bar wrappers and we’re certain they’ll have an entire exhibition hall dedicated to Chocolate Naive and their phenomenal packaging.
We spoke with Chocolate Naive’s in-house art director Domantas Uzpalis to learn a bit more about what went into their inspired designs and how to stand out in the oversaturated market of artisanal chocolate.
Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.
Domantas Uzpalis: The re-design or facelift of our packaging took more than a year with 5 people working intensively on this project. The stakes were high so at least three times we had changed our minds about the overall concept. It was quite nerve-wracking and exhausting for everybody involved. Parts of the design solutions were polished after oversleeping on them again and again and some were implemented by pure accident or after random and sudden inspirations.
To be honest, I would not repeat this process again as it took too much effort and it was quite draining. On the other hand, I can now settle down and open the new chapter for our brand.
I believe we have developed a new format for the chocolate bar with it being wider than usual and it claims much more space on the shelf. We let the creativity flow freely so the packaging is almost at the edge of not being associated with the product inside—which was a risky decision. We also wanted to use textures and materials that are not usually associated with chocolate products.
While each and every chocolate bar is individualistic and can serve as a stand alone product, it also acts like a single member of an orchestra when combined together with the others.
What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with Chocolate Naive packaging and how did you accomplish it?
Domantas Uzpalis: The project is a little bit egocentric with very little compromise. I wanted it to represent who we are and how we see ourselves. It was rather clear that I didn't want to go the orthodox way and use the same old models of chocolate packaging that are time tested and safe, but also a bit boring. There was a need to disrupt the status quo of the chocolate packaging and I wanted to introduce the new perceptions.
I always begin with the question “why” and build everything from there. Colours, artworks, shapes, and forms—it is only a secondary byproduct.
How did you develop the different looks for the 3 varieties?
Domantas Uzpalis: I must admit, we have had too many types and shapes of products and it was time to purify and find focus. Having said that, I still wanted to use the multilayered knowledge we have collected during our 7 experimental years. The only tangible way to develop multilayered focus was to split our range into three collections but use the same format and shape. Do you want something pure and clean? Or maybe you fancy something more left field? Something classical? We have it all covered but as one single brand. All three collections represent different concepts and it’s reflected on the packaging too.
The FORAGER collection is based on local ingredients coming from our terroir so the packaging transmits this message via color gradients that indirectly interpret the mushrooms of the deep forest or honey of the green and sunny biodynamic apiary.
The EQUATOR collection is based on the idea that all of the ingredients are coming from the single ecosystem as cacao so the packaging is very tropical and intense.
On the other hand, we have the NANO_LOT collection which is constructed with just two ingredients—cacao beans and sugar—so the packaging is very minimalist and simple from the outside. But there are layers and layers of information provided on the insert inside of the box because this particular collection stands for the simplicity of the recipe, but the complexity of the product inside.
What was the most challenging part of this project?
Domantas Uzpalis: The biggest challenge was to improve something that was already good. I’ve been working and experimenting with various artists and graphic designers since the dawn of our project and Chocolate Naïve was always famous for its good and clean design. Reinvention is quite a dramatic process with a lot of doubts and insecurities, but how can you maintain progress without change? There was quite a bit of resistance from our partners and distributors as they were against dramatic changes. In my opinion, the quality of product packaging worldwide is rapidly improving so we had to meet those challenges.
How did you try to make Chocolate Naive stand out in a saturated market of fine chocolates and sweets?
Domantas Uzpalis: I always gamble and take risks. Life might be much more simple if our brand could settle down, but my vision is to change the perception and attract new people to the craft chocolate world. I want to accelerate chocolate consumption culture, so in reality, the main driving factors aren’t competitive; rather, it’s to improve the overall situation and let people see this category with a different eye. So then everybody benefits and our classical and ordinary chocolate becomes something else. This is what I am after.
If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?
Domantas Uzpalis: The series of small details hidden within the packaging. From the ergonomic way the box opens to temperate debossing or background artwork, there are quite a few hidden gems to be discovered in our packaging. I am a sucker for obscure details.
Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.
Domantas Uzpalis: Trust your gut feeling: if you have at least 1% of doubt about the end result then it's not good enough to be released.
Bill McCool is a freelance writer based out of Los Angeles. Though new to the world of design, he has always been a storyteller by trade and he seeks to inspire and cultivate a sense of awe with the work and artists he profiles. When he's not winning over his daughters with the art of the Dad joke, he is usually working on a pilot, watching the Phillies, or cooking an elaborate meal for his wife.