The art of imperfection in packaging

by Silvia D’Alesio

I don’t know if everyone remembers the singer Lynsey de Paul, a household name in the 1970s, better known as the petite performer with blond hair and a beauty mark. Focusing precisely on the latter expression, the interest arose to analyze how a sign of imperfection can instead symbolize an acknowledgement of beauty. And how, from this starting point, the concept of perfection can be applied to the vast world of packaging design.

Finally, And how new codes based on artificial intelligence can create new visual elements related to the concept of beauty without or with imperfections.

Building on this, I will be speaking on Thursday afternoon 23 May 2024 at the PCD in Milan, also introducing the well-known Italian edition of the PUMA MANIFESTO, the tool that NVC provides for the packaging community that is working to end packaging as an environmental problem, also in the cosmetics sector.

A sector that, as it turns out, is starting to have difficulty categorizing each product (e.g. positioning criteria to categorize wellness or cosmetics?) . This workshop will address a topic that may not seem to address the packaging dream in the cosmetics sector, but which in fact seems to be very urgent in light of the new issues surrounding sustainability goals. In other words, the concept of ‘irregular perfection’, which states the paradoxical balance in packaging optimization and the cosmetics industry.

The challenge is to apply the PUMA manifesto method to the changing trend of stereotypes in the cosmetics world, breaking out of the canons and designing new concepts of imperfection.

image: Eco Mood Board for cosmetics brand by my student of Sustainability Innovation Communication Master in Naba Milan

As stated before, we need to incorporate new resources into our lives, be creative, expand our horizons and acquire new tools, and to achieve these goals, there is nothing better than exploring other cultures (for example complementing our western one with the neighboring but different Asian one).

First of all, beauty is practically what is covered in almost every country. Secondly, other values, philosophy regards the ability to learn and evolve, to improve, to follow a path towards improvement, an endless journey along paths of knowledge and evolution.

In this sense, brand owners take their cue from concepts akin to that of harmony, such as:

– To appreciate the philosophy of the place, including differences in colors, traditions and customs.

– To promote respectful culture through products, all while trying to adopt the refined aesthetics, while creating a new meaning of ‘luxury’.

However, as has been conveyed to us, harmony is something related to the balance that often occurs when there is chaos. In this sense, product design today seeks a form to conceptualize an “Irregular Harmony”, or better still, an imperfect perfection by affirming the paradoxical balance in an asymmetrical composition or the combination of seemingly opposite elements (such as ‘being sustainable’ and ‘being luxurious’).

The most recent data published by RetailX on the report Global Luxury show a growing interest in a new trend, bringing together two apparently very different words in terms of consumption, namely Sustainable & Luxury.

How can these two be linked? especially in re-use, driven by younger shoppers getting on board, how to keep the key to the concept of exclusivity so typical in the luxury sector ? As shown in the report, across all retail sectors, many shoppers are starting to make purchase choices based on their environmental impact, most notably in clothing, where 46.4% of consumers choose sustainable options, groceries (44.8%) and beauty and cosmetics (32.4%).

So, finding the right balance between waste and resource, seems to meet in the case of cosmetics packaging with the intent of the product as an everyday perfection for our personal beauty. There are several claims that we are familiar with and that are therefore riding the wave of sustainability to innovate and remain competitive in the market.

In a way, the metaphorical value of cosmetics is really discovered when one decides to trespass on ordinary precepts, and who knows if the use of artificial intelligence is not perfect for this trespassing operation.

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