by Rich Kiley
An interdisciplinary team of students from Rochester Institute of Technology was awarded third place in a national competition for its imaginative packaging design based on a popular 2014 movie.
As part of the 2015 Student Design Challenge sponsored by the national Paperboard Packaging Alliance, teams were asked to design a limited edition innovative toy package that can also be reused as an interactive structure for the toy.
The RIT team’s entry, “The Book of Life/Sugar Skull,” featured a package that also is the toy and can be decorated with markers, stencils and other accessories included with the package.
The collaborative project was the brainchild of graphic design students from a class led by Lorrie Frear, associate professor of graphic design in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, and Bill Wynkoop, an adjunct faculty member in the College of Applied Science and Technology’s packaging science program.
The team was comprised of three graphic design graduates— Ellie (Alexandra) Peters, from Honeoye Falls, N.Y.; Carly Rumpf, of Downingtown, Pa.; and Ashley Slaby, from Sodus, N.Y., all of whom graduated in May—along with third-year packaging science students Jacqueline Moshier, of Syracuse, N.Y., and Stephen Reed, from Lowville, N.Y.
The imaginative package was based on The Book of Life, a visually dazzling animated film released in 2014, which follows a young man on a journey through enchanting realms. The film teaches children about the traditional Mexican holiday Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, while many characters in the movie are decorated skeletons or sugar skulls.
The team of students collaborated on the design over a six-week period, often juggling schedules since their classes didn’t meet together.
“The graphic design students came up with the idea and then the packaging design students came in and tinkered with the size and the shape, how it would be displayed, and the way the box comes apart,” Frear recalled. “The package acts as the toy so there is little waste.”
The RIT team’s approach went over well with the seven-member jury that announced the winners during a recent awards luncheon at PACKEXPO in Las Vegas. Frear and three RIT students attended the luncheon, at which they also took home the People’s Choice Award voted on by attendees.
Winners were chosen by a team of paperboard packaging industry professionals who rated submissions based on their response to the competition scenario, innovative structural and graphic design, functionality and quality of the finished product.
RIT submitted a total of nine entries for the competition. Another submission, “McQueens’s Garage—based on the popular Toy Story movie series by Pixar Studios—received an honorable mention.
Teams from California Polytechnic State University and Fashion Institute of Technology were awarded first and second place, respectively. There were 53 entries in all.
Winners received a cash prize to share among the team and one of equal value for the school. RIT received $1,500 for third place.
Wynkoop’s RIT team won first prize in the 2009 competition for its sustainable packaging and multi-purpose design, and has placed among the top three a number of times.
The Paperboard Packaging Alliance is a joint initiative of the American Forest & Paper Association and the Paperboard Packaging Council whose mission is to promote the benefits of paperboard packaging to influence preference for these materials in packaging design and selection.
For more information about the PPA Student Design Challenge, go to paperboardpackaging.org.