Triple Mac Pack
Why do consumer food packages look the way they do and why do they have to focus so much on the functional aspect but completely omit the playfulness and human interaction and the real ‘fun’ of getting something or being served?
Challenge: Create various prototypes of food packages that elevate the quality of the product/aspects of the product to make the experience more delightful. For my last prototype, I decided to create packages for the Kraft Mac & Cheese.
For this project, I explored consumer food products' packages, focusing on their form , the package's relationship to the item itself, and whether they relate to each other or not. although we typically not care much about the packages we get as extra when we buy products, I tried to discover what qualities of packages whether it's structural, informative, or performative make holding and interacting with the very few packages so delightful. During the 3 weeks of the project, I created various prototypes for food packages that depict specifically on the aspects of packaging that make the experience delightful. For my last prototype, I decided to design and brand a new package for the Kraft Mac & Cheese as personal interest.
When I first moved to America in middle school and my family bought a new house in Chicago area, I remember getting Kraft's mac and cheese bowls from Walmart thinking that it's going to be an emergency food. Couple days later, they all disappeared because I ate them all haha.
Anyways, for this project, I chose to package Kraft's Macaroni & Cheese not just because I had a personal connection to the item but because I was drawn towards their strong use of graphic/colors and their shape of mac and cheese noodles. Other items I considered packaging were donuts, soaps, bowls, and badminton shuttlecocks.
First, I went to a local grocery store to see how standard/commercial mac and cheese and other similar items' packages looked liked. Packages for commercial items didn't really have interesting shapes, but they did a job of putting and holding multiple items together without wasting and taking up that much of space. One of the project's goal was to only work with the form of package, no graphics at all.
In order to start designing actual mac & cheese package, I first started off by referencing to some other packaging ideas to get inspired and learn about paper joinery and then made a simple package that would work for mac & cheese bowls.
How do I design a package form that raises the value of the items?
One of the goals for designing my package was to be able to design a package that has the quality of serving people and perhaps raise the value of the items themselves, which in this case was each of the mac & cheese bowl.
For my ideation, I created a mood board, collecting images that show the qualities of serving, showcasing, or being served. And then I started sketching what my first prototype should focus on and how it's going to show the serving quality and showcasing quality at the same time.
Prototype 1: Rice-A-Roni Stadium
The first prototype a.k.a. the Rice-A-Roni Stadium turned out to look like a stadium for Rice-A-Roni's. I couldn't find mac & cheese at the store I went to so I worked with Rice-A-Roni.
The user interaction with the package highlights the serving quality. When person wants to grab one of the items, they would have to drag the package that holds the item towards themselves.
-where does this package belong to?
-Is this a package or a display.
People looking at this package felt that this package looked more like a display than a package and also felt too architectural. They definitely felt that it was not practical for regular consumer use and did not highlight the form of the items themselves, rather it was disguising with structural elements of the package. Thus, for my next iteration, I decided to take these feedback into consideration and pay more attention to the items being packaged.
Prototype 2 Ideation
The critical feedback I received from my peers and professors was as mentioned earlier was that my package felt too architectural and it also wasted too much space and material. For the 2nd prototype, I moved away from designing something too big and display-like, focusing more on mimicking the shape of the item and the package can inform that.
Prototype 2: Mac & Cheese package that you can hug
This package mimics the shape of the mac & cheese noodle. The cover was added to add the surprise when opening the package and the size was considered to be able to be huggable. This package design was not for every user but was designed for mac and cheese lovers like myself.
-ambiguity with the shape of cover (too rounded edge)
-package is still too big and display-like
-package covering up the whole items, not necessarily celebrating each form of the item.
-too literal translation of mac & cheese.
Prototype 3: Ideation
Because I was told for the last two prototypes that my package seemed too big. This time, I decided to work smaller. For this iteration, what inspired me to design was one of BIG's building concept and how that structure can complement with the graphics and colors of the mac and cheese bowl and make it more playful.
-the package celebrates the graphics and the idea of the brand but not the actual 'form'.
-the package doesn't celebrate the items in a harmonious way due because of its asymmetric shape and no sense of unity between each item.
Final Prototype: Idea Sketches from first to last prototype
Final Prototype: Triple Mac Pack
Finally for my last prototype, I spent more time planning and sketching than actually making the package. This time, I tried to capture the essence of the product's form but also its literal content: each mac & cheese noodle in the most simplest and elegant way.
Later after the project was over, I spent a day designing advertising materials for the last prototype and gave a name to this new line: Triple Mac Pack.
This project taught me how to create meaningful stories by focusing on the project's need rather than what I think is the need and the story that may fit in to the problem I'm solving.