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'Big Book' provides package design inspiration

More than 500 full-color package designs are showcased in this new book, including a full selection of eco-friendly packages.

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Bright orange and bursting with 384 full-color pages of package designs, The Big Book of Packaging from Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, celebrates some of the most compelling global packaging innovations introduced over the last several years. The nearly 500 designs contained within the hardcover book were culled from among 2,000 candidates, screened and selected by three designers with extensive brand design experience. Will Burke, founder and Chief Change Officer for Brand Engine, James Pietruszynski, partner/creative director for Soulsight, and Lisa Baer, president of Baer Design Group, spent nearly a year evaluating hundreds of submissions from working and student designers to come up with the final selection.

In his introduction, Burke writes of the final designs chosen for the book: “The common thread among this elite group is their ability to tell a brand story that is authentic, meaningful, and compelling. These designs deliver on many levels by transcending the merely obvious and offering us the possible. The shape, material, color, and graphics combine to arouse our interest and influence our decisions.”

The book is the latest edition in the 13-title “Big Book” series for graphic artists and is intended to provide inspiration for designers, creative professionals, marketers, and retailers. “It offers a rare opportunity to take a survey of global trends and micro-trends and look at the functionality in packaging,” says Baer.
Eco-friendly packaging strongly represented
Differentiating the book from other design compilations, The Big Book of Packaging is among the first to include examples of sustainable packaging, which are identified throughout with a green leaf icon. Says publications director Nancy Heinonen, “We specifically requested eco-friendly designs—items with soy-based ink or FSC paper, or those that were manufactured in an environmentally friendly manner.”

Baer was expressly chosen as an author due to her knowledge of environmentally friendly package design. “Sustainability is not really a micro-trend anymore,” she says. “It’s a real part of the packaging language, and it’s not going to go away.”

Baer adds that the 100 sustainable package designs represented in the book point to a growing trend toward greater design sophistication for greener packaging. “I think we have overcome the need for everything having to look like cardboard or have a muted green color in order to be recyclable or sustainable,” she says. “In the book you can see some true gorgeous elements of design that still utilize sustainable packaging.”  

Qualifications keep designs fresh, relevant
As Heinonen explains, one of the qualifications for submitting a package for consideration was that it had to have been created within the last two years. The publisher also only accepted a small number of self-promotional pieces and student work, with more than 90% of the resulting book devoted to designs created for paying clients.

Although there are not many, the designs labeled as “student work” in the book offer an important reference point as well, Baer believes. “It’s great to look at the student work and get inspired by it, and to honor the creativity and the wit that went into some of these ideas, because they are fabulous,” she says.

When it came to the authors’ qualifications, The Big Book’s publisher was just as stringent. “We’re very careful when selecting our judges because judging the work of others is a very serious matter. You must have ‘lived in the trenches’ for many years,” says Heinonen. “If you’ve never worked side-by-side with a manufacturer to create a unique packaging shape, if you’ve never had to sell your vision to difficult clients, then we don’t feel you’re qualified to judge others’ work.”

Clean, spacious layout
The book is divided into five main sections, each with its own vibrant signature color:
Lookin’ Good: Health & Beauty (pink)
Inside & Out: Home & Garden (blue)
Tasty Treats: Food & Beverage (green)
Power Up: All Things Technical (yellow)
There’s More: Miscellaneous (purple)

Within each section, gorgeous photography of the package designs is presented in a clean, uncluttered style against crisp, white pages. Each package is accompanied by copy that indicates the design firm, the country of origin, the creative team, and the client. Student work is identified by a starburst icon; page numbers are highlighted with the signature category color, making it easy to navigate through the categories.

Also within each section, at least one package design is presented on a two-page spread for “An In-Depth Look” that includes detailed information on the project.

The Big Book of Packaging is available for a list price of $49.99 through a number of booksellers, including and Barnes & Noble.   {SI!}

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