Why Can't Packaging Become Part of the Product?
Just Out of Curiosity…
Children’s toy pose significant threats to our environment. The issue lies with it’s short product life and inability for recycling, including it’s packaging. So for this project, I wanted to tackle the question – How can we extend the product life of children's toys through package?
Designing sustainable packaging requires considerations beyond material and form but also it’s functionality. Why can’t packaging become part of the product? – Was the question I asked myself moving forward with this project.
The Nuts and Bolts Toy have been around for decades and have been considered as a safe, gender neutral and educational product for parents looking to help develop their children’s motor development and coordination, memory, manual dexterity, concentration, color recognition, pairing and shape sorting. With a narrow target age range, it is important to think of ways to increase the life span of the product by perhaps introducing other functional elements like building and creativity into the product’s usage without altering the product itself. In addition, the durable nature of these bulky toys allows for the opportunity to rely on more sustainable materials when designing it’s packaging. I also want the packaging to feel more appropriate as a STEM product and for medical use.
The Final Design is a simple, compact and smart packaging that elevates the product. At first glance, the packaging showcases the nuts and bolts in a neat and organized fashion, the tone down colors of the cardboard also highlights the colorful and fun characteristics of the product itself.
From giraffes to airplanes, the redesigned packaging can be torn apart to use as building blocks for children to build anything they want using the nut and bolts. The material characteristics of cardboard has allowed for a package structure that not only is more sustainable but also introduces new elements of functionality that allows for user creativity and construction.
Designing sustainable packaging requires considerations beyond material and form but also it’s functionality. Why can’t packaging become part of the product? – Was the question I asked myself moving forward with this project. I looked at existing packaging that utilized it’s packaging to transform the users interaction with the toy. I was also inspired by modular and “lego-like” toys that allow for room for users to be creative. With these references in mind, going into the ideation phase, I knew I wanted to somehow incorporate the packaging as pieces for users to build with using the nuts and bolts.
I began prototyping the package structure by laser cutting various cuts onto a piece of cardboard. I wanted to test out the best cuts that will be easily tearable and bent but still maintains it’s structural integrity as a package structure.
After receiving peer feedback, I decided to rethink the package structure so that the users would have enough pieces to play with. I came up with the idea to have a base and a sleeve. The base is designed as a stack of laser cut pieces and the sleeve, with the same pattern, to protect the toys.
Current packaging – a useless plastic pouch that immediately get’s thrown away.
Left: Final concept. A stack of building pieces with a sleeve to cover the toys that can be torn apart as well. Right: Package structure base.
Left: Package structure base with toy pieces attached. Right: Package sleeve prototype.
Left: Initial concept sketch. A box constructed out of tearable strips. Right: Laser cut test of different strips.
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