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‘The consumer’s role is next to nothing’

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By Jenny Eagle+

Last updated on 25-May-2014 at 20:32 GMT

 Trendy packaging: “Cocotte” Eggs packaging design
Trendy packaging: “Cocotte” Eggs packaging design

World renowned packaging designer, Lars Wallentin, who has worked with Nestle, Buitoni and Kit Kat, believes the consumer’s role is next to nothing when it comes to packaging.

As featured in the first edition of Dow’s packaging magazine, ‘in – packaging in cultures’ Wallentin said when Steve Jobs created the iMac and iPod, he didn’t need the consumer.

Lars Wallentin

Stop fighting each other

He had a vision. If you ask the consumers what they want, they will tell you that they need everything but cannot define it,” he added.

Wallentin believes the challenge to the packaging industry is being able to work together instead of fighting each other saying that cardboard is better than plastic or the other way round.

The real challenge for the packaging industry is to try to explain to the public and the industry that it’s very often a combination of materials like plastic, cardboard, metal and other that bring the product together,” he said.

I still see them fighting each other, and this is not food for the future.”

The designer said trends will depend on how sophisticated the market is. The trend in England with its retailers is that packaging has to be funny he said.

Greater China

Then you can go to the other extreme that is China, which is, at this moment 10 years behind – here the packaging is very busy,” he added, “But watch out. The Chinese are moving at the speed of light. In five years’ time, I will go to China to learn about packaging design.

They have new printing machines, the most up-to-date equipment and they have an ever-growing customer base.

In the US, where trends originated from many years ago, I have not seen many new trends starting because of their approach to packaging design and their legislation.

I think the new trends will come from England, France and, maybe in five years’ time, they will come from Greater China.”

Looking to the future, Wallentin said packaging design is evolving very well on the technical side. This is due to ‘how we use raw materials’.

Right now we are moving towards thinner films, thinner aluminium and more standardized packaging,” he added.

One thing that will lead in the next five years is the whole ecological question. However, in terms of communication we stand still; some companies even go backwards as they believe the consumer needs everything on a package.”

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