Designing and manufacturing a solution for high-value and delicate products
Haberdashery is well known in design circles for its focus on innovation and creativity – without neglecting the functionality of its products and installations.
Aligning particularly well with GWP Packaging’s values and strengths, Haberdashery approached GWP to create a high-performance eCommerce shipper. The packaging was required to safely transport a new, delicate, high-value product. The resulting outcome proved particularly successful.
The major innovations of the final pack, therefore, included the use (and structural design) of corrugated fittings that eliminate the need for foam or EPS. The fittings also create fresh air around an exceptionally fragile and expensive glass pendant without increasing the overall volumetric size of the pack and maintaining the customer experience.
Quick reference / contents
London-based design practice and light manufacturer
Founded in 2007, Haberdashery is a London-based design practice that utilises light to create landmark sculptures, innovative products and inspired R+D for ambitious architects, interior designers, brands and institutions globally.
The company’s ethos is to approach every design opportunity with passion and attention to detail. This approach has seen Haberdashery build up a wealth of experience (subsequently put into each bespoke sculptural commission) gained from over 450 successful installations in 35 countries over the past decade.
Their goal is to delight and surprise their audience through an artistic approach at the outset of a project, then a design focus for the delivery stages.
As a result, Haberdashery aims to discover new ways of captivating its audiences through light & form. Projects include unique sculptural commissions for Foster + Partners, Selfridges & Co and British Land, or as products that embody the same attention to detail and imagination in a takeaway form.
Problems that Haberdashery was facing
Haberdashery, already well known for creating bespoke lighting sculptures and large-scale installations, decided to launch its first commercial lighting product – Canopy.
This product is an LED pendant light, which casts dappled light reminiscent of sunshine filtering through leaves.
The light source in Canopy consists of a custom array of LED pixels developed in-house by Haberdashery, which displays a looping animated gif to create movement. The light then passes through a lens and a filter to create the full effect.
As the studio’s first commercially available product, Canopy will eventually form part of a future collection called Evoke, which draws on memories triggered by light.
The obvious challenge this immediately raised was relatively simple – how to protect an expensive and fragile item during courier and transportation networks.
However, upon defining a brief, several more intricate and challenging requirements were realised, taking in environmental sensitivities, customer experience and brand positioning.
Main objectives of the design process
As a result, the brief raised three main objectives – protection, minimising environmental impact and customer experience.
As the pack is for shipping eCommerce orders of the highly fragile and expensive (approx. £1,000 RRP) glass pendant, protection through the supply chain was essential. To achieve this also meant a requirement to keep all individual elements of the product separate within the pack.
However, to reflect Haberdashery’s brand ethos and environmental policies, GWP used only recyclable materials in the pack. The obvious choice for such a pack would be to use foam, but with this option ruled out, the structural design had to provide a similar level of protection.
As with all eCommerce orders of valuable items, “unboxing” was also important. Therefore, customer experience when revealing the product was a key consideration.
Even having highlighted these three key points, there were several additional factors to assess. Considerations included the cost of the pack needing to meet a relatively tight budget, the volumetric size and weight needing to be minimised (to aid shipping costs) and ease of assembly.
Finally, GWP also realised it was necessary from a manufacturing perspective to keep production processes to a minimum and use print and graphics appropriately.
The packaging GWP proposed
To successfully meet this brief (without foam or EPS), an engineered structural design utilising interlocking fittings was created, with recyclable EB and B flutes used throughout.
This design provided protection during transit (whilst satisfying the environmental considerations) by locating and housing all products, minimising contact with fragile elements and creating fresh air around the product.
The design ensured the product made no contact with the internal walls of the outer carton.
The performance was proven with the packaging passing real-life transit tests during development.
The fittings also allow for an excellent unboxing experience, with the customer seeing the product on initial opening, with secondary items initially hidden.
Satisfying the other requirements, the pack came within budget and even offered a cost saving of 70% compared with foam alternatives. The new design ensured assembly time was minimised due to the simple roll-up fittings and interlocking locations, whilst the volumetric size did not increase against the foam alternative (and was kept to a safe minimum for transit purposes).
The EB flute outer maximised flexographic branding impact whilst maintaining transit protection and structural integrity. The case-maker and die-cutting processes used to manufacture the components also ensured minimal waste.
Other crucial points to consider
Unusually for a product of this value and fragility, foam, polystyrene, and other “non-recyclable” materials could not be used. These options would have been the obvious solution due to how it cushions items from shock, impact and vibration during transit.
With this option ruled out, the opportunity was to find a way in which corrugated could cushion the product through both UK and international courier networks.
Using B flute, GWP produced a structural design to mimic how foam would “encase” the item (in this case, with empty space instead) to insulate it from any potential forces it would encounter.
Achieving this whilst maintaining an equivalent volumetric footprint was a vital part of the challenge, but doing so still left space for the supporting products and components.
With Haberdashery’s requirement for the wow factor, this design process also lends itself well to the customer experience when opening. When shipping valuable items, usually protection is the only consideration, but the space surrounding the product ensures a striking visual impact as soon as the customer opens the packaging.
Finally, using corrugated instead of foam ensures easy disposal and recycling for the end user.
The packaging design would not be possible without a strong focus on design innovation and R&D.
This approach is where GWP and Haberdashery’s values and processes aligned strongly, allowing the creation of a technically and structurally advanced pack that reflected a brand message and enhanced customer experience.
Feedback / Starpack awards
Recognition of the pack's success
The pack proved to be such a success that GWP proposed to Haberdashery the potential of entering it into the 2017 Starpack Awards.
With Haberdashery in complete agreement, GWP entered the pack into the B2C “home delivery” category.
Following an extensive judging process, the judges awarded the packaging with a Silver Award at a glittering ceremony held in London on February 22nd 2018.
The Starpack Awards have been running for over 50 years. Starpack is widely regarded as the industry-leading competition for packaging of all types.
Adrian Vrabie, the GWP designer that worked on the packaging, commented:
It was good to work on a design where the clients also placed so much emphasis on design – both in terms of usability and aesthetics. Whilst this was initially a bit daunting, Haberdashery was very receptive to our ideas, and it was a pleasure working with them. I’m delighted the design achieved a Starpack Award.
Julie Aparicio, Graphics and Service Designer at Haberdashery, also said:
The pack has worked remarkably well. There was some concern that using corrugated alone would protect such a high-value and fragile item, but to date, we have had zero returns due to transit damage. GWP has done a great job.
Find out more
Further information on GWP and Haberdashery
For further information about the GWP design process and the custom corrugated transit packaging you can source, please view the packaging guides section of this website, or get in touch.