• 26th August 2015

"At MW, we pride ourselves on manufacturing the unique"

In order to talk about packaging design and the latest trends in this field, we interviewed Toby Wilson, COO of MW Luxury Packaging, a global packaging development company with offices in the UK, Asia and the Americas that provides innovative, premium and award winning packaging solutions to luxury brands.

What is most important for you when you are designing the packaging of a product? There is no single element that can be considered when developing a piece of luxury packaging.  Packaging design is a mixture of tangible and emotive elements and is dependent on the product, the audience and the experience. The combination of these elements provides a unique multisensory design. At MW, we pride ourselves on manufacturing the unique.  Being recognised as a company that thrives on challenges has given us the opportunity to work on some amazing projects with some of the world’s leading brands. We are always looking to push the boundaries of materials and manufacturing processes, whilst ensuring the brand’s integrity remains sacrosanct.

How do you define good packaging design?

A great piece of packaging needs to operate on multiple levels.  The function and performance is critical.  If the pack were to fail or to detract from the primary pack that it holds, presents or displays, then it is not fit for purpose.  These practical elements are frequently overlooked but for us an essential part of the mix.

A pack must work seamlessly with the bottle or product that it contains.  Consistency of print, finishes and how the bottle integrates with the pack is key.  The pack is an extension of the brand and in the majority of cases it is the first engagement with the brand for the consumer.

The experience that the consumer gets from the moment they see and physically engage with the pack has to be right.  How the pack feels, the balance when being held and released all play a key role in a consumer’s immediate perceptions of quality.

To what extent can a product be designed with sustainable value?

Sustainability is critical consideration in today’s society and even more so in industries such as packaging.

Understanding the impact of the materials and processes we use is very important and we advise and guide many of our clients on how to minimise this.  In the luxury sector this is a slightly different consideration as the packaging produced is usually retained along with the bottle as a holder or with a display function.

It is not without its challenges due to the materials and level of detail required however by actually adding value into a piece of packaging makes it more desirable and therefore perceivably less disposable.

Secondary usage is also a key driver where the consumer places a real value on the packaging and continues to use it long after a standard pack would have been disposed of.

Do you think that different materials communicate different things to consumers?

Definitely, but it is very difficult to be specific on this.  We develop and manufacture packaging across the world for many brands and the regional variations, perceptions and trends strongly dictate the usage and relevance of materials.  We work across rigid board, tin, plastics, flexible materials and wood and in many cases a combination of several together.  The use of these are primarily dictated by the brand and the consumer.

How the materials are used, level of detail and quality of production is where the perceptions of a pack and ultimately the brand are won or lost.  As long as these are always core to the development and production then the right level of quality and budget will be achieved.    

Why do you think premium packaging is particularly important for the drinks sector?

The drinks sector is a very crowded sector with a huge range of products of varying quality and price point meeting the varied needs of an expansive audience.  Standout and elevation against competitors is essential and this is where premium and luxury packaging comes into its own.  The design and production quality is a vital component to elevating a brand above and beyond its competitive set and communicates its equities and aspirations both overtly and subtly to the consumer.

Is it still possible to surprise the consumer?

Without a doubt it is still possible and some of the best packs do this.  In the premium and luxury sector this cannot be executed in a brash or necessarily obvious manner but in an intelligent and considered way that the consumer discovers in the process of opening or engaging with the pack. This in turn increases awareness, relationship with and loyalty to “the brand”.

An endorsement or story, a material evocation of the brand or the journey of the product, if communicated in a clever and subtle way is very powerful.

What are your latest works?

As mentioned above, MW develop, manufacture and deliver luxury packaging globally. With offices in UK, Hong Kong, China, Russia and most recently in the United States we are always working on new and exciting projects.

There has been some great work in the U.S. this year for which we are in the very fortunate position to have been nominated for several awards. Two notable packs are Sonos Bluenote and Ciroc Platinum both of which use a mixture of materials and manufacturing techniques and for two very different sectors.

What are the future trends in Premium packaging design?  

The future of packaging is very exciting.  Smart materials that react to the environment and the consumer are all progressing rapidly and will become common place within packaging in the near future.  Tapping into current technologies is also a fast emerging trend with packaging being able to communicate with the consumer to inform them about the product . It is also possible for brand owners to gather data and consumption habits.

The key to the future of packaging is as it always has been “to be aware” of emerging technologies, materials and methods from across multiple industries and trying to apply these in an ethical and engaging way that is relevant to the brand, the consumer and the environment in which it sits.