Home / Drawdown

Structural Design: Where Function meets Aesthetic


At CRP, we partner with our clients to push the envelope in discovering how to employ the latest methods in packaging production in tasteful and unique ways. Packaging is a tangible element of your brand. At times, it is the first touch point in the experience of receiving a product, and, if effective, leaves a lasting impression. Packaging can speak to consumers through a variety of media, from graphics and imagery to material selection, and even tone of voice. A crucial element in shaping this impression is structural design. In order to bring a smart solution to life, we consider two main aspects: functionality & brand aesthetic.

To begin the structural design process, we first determine the functional guidelines of the project. We must evaluate:
• how the packaging is going to be used,
• how we can best protect the product in every use case scenario,
• how long the packaging is intended to last (should it be saved/displayed [counter-worthy], repurposed [upcycled], socially responsible [recycled/recyclable] or thrown away?),
• how much storage space is available for unused product,
• how the structure should be shipped (flat vs. rigid),
• where the structure will be assembled, and how long the process will take (if assembly is required), and
• the trajectory of the business plan (will the packaging need to be automated to meet future supply and demand?).

In order to refine the solution, we must also consider how your packaging will deliver on the brand’s promise. It is vital to consider what the core values of the brand in order to determine what aesthetic should be carried through the structural design so the customer experience is consistent with what they’ve come to expect from the brand.

Considerations may include:
• the core attributes of the brand (i.e., sustainability, innovative, memorable),
• the target audience (i.e., primarily male or female),
• where the package will be experienced (in an office, at home, in a retail environment), and
• what the user experience should be before, during, and after opening the package.

By asking a few of these basic questions we start to get an idea of the physical shape the packaging is taking and the materials/finishes that support the aesthetic experience.

Most recently, we worked with Roseur Fine Roses to develop a shipping box for some of the world’s largest and most unconventional roses. Setting itself apart from the typical floral e-commerce box, founders Sarah and Allan wanted a structure that would redefine the online gifting experience. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, we began by rethinking how a traditionally utilitarian material could be leveraged to provide a luxurious e-commerce environment.

Functionality-wise, the necessities of ventilation and protection for the roses provided a unique challenge. Die-cutting the wordmark into the side of the box was a subtle and visually concise way to tackle the challenge of ventilation. The selected material of corrugated cardboard offered the benefit of rigid protection for the roses, but required us to pioneer new techniques for assembly that met the standards of a luxury gift. Through innovative insert construction and meticulous finish application we created a truly singular experience.

Another example of a project that required both function and brand aesthetic considerations is Filson’s e-commerce program. They are a company whose brand is built on two fundamental principles: a pioneering spirit and quality that lasts.

Appropriately so, they partnered with CRP to develop a packaging program that delivered on both of these attributes. In this particular case, we were challenged to create a shipping box that had a one-of-a-kind “reveal” experience, requiring additional attention to finishes and materials. Upon opening what appears to be a standard shipping box, the customer is greeted with an integrated platform with a Filson branded envelope.

Removing this envelope leads to the discovery of a ribbon pull that unveils the interior compartment. The impact of the seamless experience of opening this box is amplified by the addition of uniquely Filson materials and finishes; the Neenah paper envelope and the luxurious ribbon are echoes of the in-store shopping bag collection, while the rich green of the box interior provides the perfect backdrop for Filson product.

Ultimately, defining the functional requirements and brand guidelines determines the parameters for a smart structural solution. Creatively confronting this framework allows us to focus our creative efforts. We apply our experience and packaging expertise to the unique challenges of each product by determining how the structure can best protect and showcase the product for a customer experience that is aligned with your brand.