Packaging that tells a story

Winning students’ fun-filled packaging concepts for the STI Design Award

Lauterbach, 2016-09-28 – Fancy feeling like a superhero? Just go online and order yourself a Super Tie. Thanks to the clever shipping box created by design student Christin Kruse, the superhero experience begins the moment you open the box, transporting you to a different, fun world.

Opening the box allows the recipient to see an appeal printed inside: ‘Save the world; Save fashion.’ Colourful cartoons give a step-by-step guide to how to tie the perfect knot. But that’s not the end of it. To ensure the tie is always to hand when needed, an integral tie hanger is included in the packaging. Budding superheroes can now keep their favourite tie on a normal coathanger without it slipping off and getting lost at the bottom of the wardrobe. The tie hanger is quick and easy to separate from the box, and forms a key element of the superhero theme.  

Super Tie inventor Kruse is a product design student currently in her fourth semester at Münster School of Design. Her intelligent creation won the STI Design Award 2016 Special Prize, presented at a ceremony in Nuremberg at the end of September. ‘The challenge was to design online retail packaging that protected the product and also generated positive emotions that reduce the likelihood of the product being returned. This meant showcasing the product in a creative way and delivering an exciting unboxing experience to the shopper,’ says Kruse, explaining her approach.

The Super Tie packaging concept impressed the expert jury and earned special praise from Prof. Dr. Alexander Haas, Professor of Marketing and Sales Management at Justus-Liebig-Universität in Gießen. ‘The solution is so different and out of the ordinary that it defied categorisation. This achievement deserves the special award created expressly for it,’ says Haas.

Online retail packaging matters

‘Online retail is booming, which is why we dedicated one of this year’s competition briefs to transit packaging,’ explains Aleksandar Stojanovic, Chief Sales Officer of the STI Group. ‘For online shoppers, packaging is the first touchpoint with the purchased brand or product. Transforming transit packaging into sales packaging that delivers an exciting experience to shoppers is a great way to add the all-important emotional dimension to online shopping.’

Extra appeal and value: Unboxing and Dual-Purpose Packaging

Alina Koschlakow and Anthea Kemper, product design students at Münster School of Design, also worked on designing a creative unboxing experience for online purchases.  

Koschlakow’s transit packaging for Superfoods saw her win second prize. The products were presented in primary packaging with a lovingly crafted design, a pour-out feature and integrated measuring cups. Four primary packs form a set for each shipping box. The shipping box is printed on the inside and doubles up as a recipe collection card, including a grocery list, after opening.

Thomas Gutberlet, Managing Director of tegut... gute Lebensmittel GmbH, was sold on the idea instantly. ‘The designer has clearly shown how this packaging solution can make our everyday life easier,’ says Gutberlet.  

Anthea Kemper’s glasses packaging was awarded third prize for its clear vision. An understated design on the outside conceals at first the ingenuity of the internal design. When the lid is opened, the glasses are lifted up and seem to sit suspended, facing the consumer. This mechanism creates a platform to present the products in an unusual way. Different graphic designs showcase the product against a background that matches the product type – so, a beach for sunglasses, a library for reading glasses and a running track for sports glasses. The inviting background design helps to encourage the recipient to try on their online purchase right away and be more likely to keep them.

In his recognition speech at the ceremony, Christian Thunig, Editor-in-Chief of marketing magazine ‘absatzwirtschaft’, emphasized the surprise effect created by the packaging. ‘Disruption is the buzzword in marketing circles. Ms. Kemper’s design solution demonstrates how we can achieve this disruption in practice, at a low cost, by crafting a more exciting packaging experience for shoppers.’

Creative concepts drive in-store sales

Showcasing products is not only important for online retail but also brick-and-mortar stores. The winning concept by Stephanie Poole, product design student at the School of Art and Design in Kassel, shows how this is done. She designed a display unit with elegant product samples to boost in-store sales of Lipton’s hot beverages. The samples can be placed in different product categories and store locations, adjacent to ingredients that transform the hot drink into refreshingly delicious summer tea. Her intent was to offer new ways of consumption and tap into new target groups for the brand. The sample pack, complete with recipe idea on the inside, is designed to resemble a wedge of lemon, to build anticipation for the drink. The wedge can also be perched on the glass lip as a garnish for the drink once ready.

With years of experience in the retail sector, Dr. Markus Schweizer, Managing Director of Holistic Consulting GmbH, is convinced that this display concept will be quickly embraced by a variety of retailers. ‘It is simple, cleverly designed and allows quick in-store placement,’ says Schweizer.

Winners of the STI Design Awards 2016

The STI Design Awards 2016 winning solutions ranged from refreshingly unconventional and outside-the-box to outright compelling. STI Group holds the competition every other year at selected universities, enabling design students to begin networking at an early stage and try applying their knowledge to real-world commercial briefs. In addition to STI Group, briefs for this year’s contest were put forward by Unilever and COTY.

48 students from Münster School of Design (Münster University of Applied Sciences), Kassel School of Art and Design and Óbuda University in Budapest were invited to unleash their creativity. Of these, four winners were selected by a distinguished panel of judges including research academics, brand manufacturers and retailers. The top concepts won their designers prizes worth a combined total of 6000 Euros.    


Image caption: The winning entries of the STI Design Awards 2016: Chill and Tea (Gold), Kraftpaket (Silver), Mabel Glasses (Bronze) and Super Tie (Special Prize).

Image caption: The most creative heads of this year's STI Design Award: Christin Kruse (Special Prize), Anthea Kemper (Bronze), Alina Koschlakow (Silver) und Stephanie Poole (Gold).

Image caption: STI Group Management and some jury members congratulate the winners of the STI Design Award 2016: Aleksander Stojanovic (STI Group), Prof. Dr. Alexander Haas (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen), Christian Thunig (absatzwirtschaft), Thomas Gutberlet (tegut… gute Lebensmittel), Dr. Markus Schweizer (Holistic Consulting Group), Stephanie Poole (Kunsthochschule Kassel), Michael Apel (STI Group), Alina Koschlakow (Münster School of Design), Anthea Kemper (Münster School of Design), Christin Kruse (Münster School of Design).