01 October 2016

LDF16: Packaging Design & Marina Willer

Every year, the London Design Festival brings design professionals and enthusiasts from around the world to London for events, workshops, talks, pop-ups, installations and much more. The Victoria and Albert Museum acts as a hub for the festival, hosting new artworks and a wide programme of events celebrating the ever-changing design industry. CreateVoice members were kindly invited to attend some of these events and share their own perspectives.

First up: A masterclass from Marina Willer on life as a female designer, and 'The Power of Packaging' Panel Discussion.


Marina Willer is the designer behind the identities of major players like Tate and the Southbank Centre - she's also the first female partner at the London branch of design powerhouse, Pentagram. Willer joined the LDF16 itinerary to discuss the what it's like being a woman in design, when it's still a 'very blokey world'. Whilst Willer emphasises Kate Moross' statement that she is a designer, not a 'woman designer', she also acknowledges that it's not a coincidence that there are fewer women in lead positions in design, and asserts that we shouldn't simply ignore it. Willer's talk was a fascinating insight into the impact of upbringing and parenthood on her design work, bouncing back from the disappointments, and the benefits of embracing chaos - buoyed with beautiful examples of her work (including the latest Pentagram paper, exploring the overlooked beauty in manhole cover designs across London).

'The Power of Packaging' explored the ever-changing role of packaging design in a modern consumer industry. Chaired by Sarah Dawood (Deputy Editor of Design Week), Emma Follet, Mike Beauchamp, Ed Silk and Daniel Mason discussed some of their work across the spectrum of packaging design, and mused about how design will have to change in the future as our world becomes increasingly digital. It was extremely interesting - and a little unnerving! - to learn about the psychology of the packaging we stumble across all throughout our lives. Packaging tells us so much about the product; but it can also us perhaps an unexpected amount about the brand producing it and the consumer it's marketed to, even the society in which it is available. My favourite example was the Chinese tampon brand, Femme (with sleek, discreet branding by Pearlfisher), which exists in a market where tampons make up only 1% of feminine hygiene sales worth over £60billion. Alongside emerging cultural shifts - for example, Chinese Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui's frank acknowledgement of the effect her period on her performance - branding decisions can have an impact on the social implications of products.

Words: Laura Blair

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