INVOLVING PEOPLE IN FOOD PACKAGING DESIGN

Suzana Laub is a PhD student hosted at Co-design cluster. She has been researching and developing design probes for testing methodologies, design tools and experimental models of co-design, human-centred design and interaction design in order to understand how actively involve people and everyday reality in food packaging design, aiming to engage effectively respective stakeholders for more inclusive and sustainable solutions. Her case study is Tetra Pak milk packaging and she tells following a portion of her PhD project:

“I have been researching Tetra Pak milk packaging critical issues regarding packaging usage in everyday life.
In-house usage was the best site to observe people’s behaviour within their natural context; aiming to do it
without interfering with people’s everyday usual way of acting (or at least, to a minimum).
It was useful in my research to see what people actually do within realistic circumstances, rather than
accept what they say they do, or bring them out of their natural context and everyday life situation.

I made some design probes recording activities in relevant spaces to my case study (supermarkets; backers; coffee bars; disposal areas; packaging collecting areas, etc.) within an extended period of time and I realised it was useful to obtain a longitudinal view of pre-defined activity within a context with minimum interference. Obviously sometimes, I had to “hide” and avoid being noticed. Here a powerful zoom lens was useful due the possible distance of observation. It was fun to capture those moments and very meaningful for my research.

Concerned about inclusive design matters, I worked with elderly people with common dexterity limitations of their ages, but being still independent and able to grip, hopefully open and pour their own milk; aiming to investigate particular difficulties they might face on their everyday life. I spent time with them and asked them to evaluate their experience using Tetra Pak’s packaging of my case study for about one week. This field research was very useful to reveal uncovered milk packaging design opportunities.

I spent 2 weeks time using all kind of milk packagings I could find to closely understand my research matters and add my own experience when developing design probes and case study sets.
I believe I never consumed so much milk in my life!

After my first visit to Tetra Pak Design & Development in Modena (Italy), I made exhaustive milk packaging opening probes to better understand the several technical issues I was dealing with. I wanted to go ‘on the inner side’ of the packaging to understand it better.”

Suzanna Laub

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About Sarah Bodil Tierney

I am guest editor for the blog and I am currently writing a phd-project application with the CoDesign Cluster and Musuem Lolland-Falster.

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