5 Disruptive Packaging Designs Trends for 2021/2022 from Pentawards

Pentawards issues a new report on the top 10 packaging design trends culled from 2,000 entries in its annual competition. Learn about five of them here.


Quick hits:

  • Despite the pandemic, global packaging community Pentawards received 2,000 entries from five continents for its 2021 packaging design competition, many of which it describes as “groundbreaking.”
  • The use of color as a the prominent element in packaging design became more prevalent, outshining visual elements such as ingredients and product images.
  • Sustainability continues to be a driving factor for design, with brands delivering their planet-friendly packaging messages front and center.
  • Innovative new designs are using packaging as the canvas, with one wine brand submerging the bottle in water to collect barnacles to signify its earth-friendly position. 

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   Read the transcript below:

Hello, this is Anne Marie Mohan, Senior Editor of Packaging World, with Take Five.

If ever there were an organization qualified to create a report on packaging design trends, it would be Pentawards. If you’re not familiar with the group, Pentawards is a global platform and community for packaging design. Each year it holds a competition to recognize excellence in the field. For last year’s awards, it received 2,000 entries from across five continents.

Because of what Pentawards says was a groundbreaking array of winning packages in 2021, the group decided to compile a report highlighting 10 design trends that draw from the winning work. I’d like to share with you a very brief overview of five of these trends as well as some examples of the winning work.

The first trend is surprising takes on traditional packs. This involves packaging designs and formats that are a departure from what would normally be expected with packaging for particular product categories. One example is Glass Canned Wines, which plays on the surprise of discovering wine in the untraditional format of a can. The different glasses and color wines used in the images on-pack help the consumer navigate this new format, while providing a fresh and contemporary take on wine consumption.

The second trend involves color as the key visual, rather than the ingredients or the product itself. Says Pentawards, last year’s entries pushed the use of color to new levels, from using unprecedented amounts of color to highlight flavor and taste, to disrupting the category by helping the product stand out from competitors. SAGA Gin is one example. It uses an iconic, extra-large yellow wax seal to make it more distinctive on-shelf, while creating a unified look across its packaging.

The third trend is sustainability made obvious. Among the entries, Pentawards says it saw more and more brands talking about their sustainability credentials and showcasing their efforts to develop more sustainable, planet-friendly packaging. One such brand is vegan dishwashing detergent OceanIQ, whose packaging is made from 100% recycled fishnets retrieved from oceans worldwide. The packaging instantly reflects its brand purpose, and its name is deliberately misspelled to create a brand that addresses the smart use of plastic waste. In addition, label illustrations highlight the animals the brand seeks to protect.

Moving on with our trends, the fourth is highlighting mental health. According to the World Health Organization, countries worldwide have seen a rise in mental health issues since the beginning of the pandemic. A theme reflected in last year’s entries was around using packaging as a platform to open up conversations around people’s mental wellbeing.

For example, Frahm, a U.K.-based e-comm business that produces men’s jackets, created something memorable for its packaging that reinforces its Tough Beautiful tagline. The packaging uses macro shots of native U.K. beetles, which it says are “nature’s tough and beautiful little creatures.” The corrugated cases are closed with custom packaging tape that has an “Open Up” message, highlighting that money from each purchase is sent to a mental health charity. 

The last trend is packaging as a canvas. According to the Pentawards team, over the years, it’s seen many examples where illustrations have been developed as part of a brand story and used across a range of packaging. But in 2021, it saw packaging being used as the canvas for the art, rather than as a vessel to stick the art onto.

One of this year’s winning entries was used as a canvas for nature. For both Vinho do Mar and Black Sea aged wines, bottles were submerged under water for a number of months as part of the aging process, not only for the product, but also to “age” the package in a unique and novel way. According to the report, using the packaging as a canvas to let nature make its mark has particular relevance now, where sustainability is such a hot topic and brands are aligning with more planet-friendly or “natural” messaging.

To download a free copy of the report, which includes more detail on the trends and their future direction, as well as many more packaging examples, visit this link.

That’s all for this edition of Take Five with Packaging World.

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