Packaging that aims for luxury

Structural Graphics designer Isabel Uria recently attended Luxe Pack New York, the annual convention for luxury packaging enthusiasts, where vendors, buyers and designers meet to scope out the latest in paper and glass packaging.

Structural Graphics' work was featured in the Invercote booth at Luxe Pack New York.

Structural Graphics’ work was featured in the Invercote booth at Luxe Pack New York.

Luxe Pack, which was held at New York Pier 92 this year, attracts thousands of visitors during the two-day trade show featuring a bevy of container goods designed for fashion, food and other consumer goods industries.

This year’s vendors turned out some exciting packaging ideas, including new formats and paper finishes that give dimensional print the feel of luxury.

Read on for insight into a few trends from this year’s paper packaging vendors.

Digital vs. Litho

Digital printing is giving litho printing, a traditional print method, a serious run for its money. Paper suppliers and finishers are finding ways to produce styles digitally with some pretty awesome results, including an array of paper finishes with improved quality and customization.

“I noticed a lot of people, in terms of paper suppliers and people that do different finishes on paper, are putting a lot of emphasis on what they can do digitally. Digital printing is gradually taking over because you can do almost the same things as you can do with lithoprinting,” says Uria.

Litho printing still has the upper hand in terms of its range of styles and superb quality but digital is catching up. Digital is offering packaging clients the flexibility to do smaller, more customized project runs with an increasing range of textures and finishes.

Shape shifting

One packaging style that stood out to Uria at this year’s event: turned edge boxes. “There were a lot of vendors doing customized turned edge boxes. Especially when it comes down to confectionery and liquor brands,” Uria says.  

Turned edge boxes, or what designers call wrapped boxes, follow the same idea as traditional bookmaking. Pieces are made from thick board stock and wrapped in a thinner material and come in a variety  of shapes and sizes.

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Turned edge boxes made for confectionery and liquor products were enhanced with playful manipulation of shape and graphics, two focal points which make products really stand out on the shelf, Uria adds.

“I think that the whole thing about packaging is that there is always too much packaging. The most successful and the most beautiful projects take the product into consideration...that highlight and reflect the product within.”

“I think that the whole thing about packaging is that there is always too much packaging,” says Uria. The most successful and the most beautiful projects take the product into consideration…highlight and reflect the product within.”

Paper high jinx

Paper finishers of all kinds were showcasing new styles of finish to create amazing product packaging, including:

Glitter: Glitter finish has come a long way from its teeny bopper-dom. The glitter finish at Luxe Pack showcased subtle enhancements that could be applied in gradients.

Gloss and matte lamination: Standard opaque or transparent finish move aside. This year, paper finishers were showing off metallic and pearlescent finishes to add varying levels of sheen to packaging.

Textured coating: Imagine touching something super smooth and right next to it feeling something grainier, like very fine, powdery particles…The contrast is very fun, say Uria who explains how a designer could use textured coating in a zebra pattern, emphasizing one color of lines with texture and the other smooth. “When you pass your finger [over the pattern, it feels different and] makes an impact on whatever it is you’re trying to sell.”

Feeling luxury

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High end packaging is providing brands with the best and easiest ways to get customized pieces that feel luxurious. Digital printing is making advancements to improve the quality and variety of finishes currently offered. Designers are using subtle enhancements to lessen the bulk of packaging, play with shape and create sophisticated and eye catching designs that resonate with users and focus more on the product inside.

What’s obvious is that luxury brands can’t seem to get enough of innovative, high end paper packaging and Structural Graphics has an eye on the trends. “Structural Graphics is developing [packaging] that is more glamorous [than what we've done in the past]…LED lights that shine on the product or a box that becomes more than a box and interacts more with the person receiving the package,” Uria says.

Got a question for Isabel about Luxe Pack New York? Get in touch with us at (860) 767-2661 or send us an email.

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