Described as “neither a folding carton nor a coffret,” Chanel’s limited-edition pulp blister pack, created for the 100th anniversary of the maison’s N°5 fragrance, hit markets earlier this summer. Knoll Packaging’s Florence Dancoisne and Benjamin Cohen discuss the technical aspects of the mono-material pack with Luxe Packaging Insight.
What led to your collaboration with Chanel on the project?
BC: The pack was in development for 18 months; we began working on it at the end of 2019, just before Covid-19. Chanel had already discovered our Ecoform pulp material at the Edition Spéciale by LUXE PACK show in Paris earlier that year. At the time they were already working on the limited-edition collection of 17 products for the 100th anniversary of Chanel N°5, which rolled out in June of this year.
What was Chanel’s initial brief?
FD: The brand wanted to develop a modern, simple blister shape, a sort of shell, that would house a 100ml format of the Chanel N°5 bottle. The initial brief didn’t necessarily call for pulp, but we quickly identified it as an ideal solution from a technical and sustainable standpoint, so we didn’t explore other options. So based on their brief and their initial concept, we proposed Knoll Ecoform, our pulp innovation made of a combination of 60% FSC bamboo and 40% bagasse fibers. The material was a perfect fit as it’s smooth and flexible, so easy to form and weighs in at just less than 30 grams. The shade of white and the smoothness of the surface can both also be adjusted to suit aesthetic and tactile specifications.
What challenges came about during the project?
FD: The idea was to develop a shape that could hold the bottle safely, respect (and mold to) its shape. The pulp material, and in particular the bamboo content, with its rather elastic properties, allowed us to closely mimic the shape of the bottle’s base, the neck, and also the cap, whose form is quite complex. Suspending the blister pack on a rack in-store was also a requirement, so we came up with a single snap closure system.
The functionality of the hinge was challenging as it had to be very resistant, so the choice of material was paramount. Some pulp materials can be quite fragile, but Knoll Ecoform is not. Here, we used a double layer of pulp to create the two creases on the hinge (via a V groove cutter) that allow for a seamless opening and closing experience.
Obtaining a very smooth surface on both the inside and outside of the case was also key. The original pulp has a mesh texture on the inside, so we laminated two smooth sides together with a very thin layer of glue.
You used several decoration techniques?
FD: Indeed, the case, decorated before the piece is die-cut, features three techniques: the Chanel logo on the front is hot-stamped and set within a debossed panel, and at the back the legal copy is digitally printed, while a silkscreen was used for the UPC code.
How do you see the sustainable packaging market developing in these crisis times?
BC: We’ve seen a huge acceleration when it comes to implementing more sustainable materials, including complete packaging redesigns over the last year. For Knoll, this includes our Knoll Ecoform solution and Knoll Luxe premium board platform. Last year we only produced one vac form part and we are now 99% plastic free in our production. Retailers also are showing a tremendous momentum in this area by choosing not to sell items whose packaging includes a certain amount of plastic, and in some case any plastic at all. Even lamination can be a problem for certain retailers.
Do you have other mono-material Ecoform projects in the pipeline?
BC: There are several fragrance packs that will launch in the coming months, but it’s still too early to get into any details and we’re also working on projects for make-up, wine and spirits. We’ll keep you posted!