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Interview: Inside the Make a Mark design project

Alissa Demorest

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Interview: Inside the Make a Mark design project

© From left to right: Stéphane Royère (Kurz), Gerald Alberti (Estal), David Yepes, Ralph Olthoff (Avery Dennison)

Make a Mark is an ambitious three-year collaborative international design project spearheaded by three luxury packaging suppliers: glassmaker Estal, foil specialist Kurz and label expert Avery Dennison. In the Winter issue of our sister publication Formes de Luxe, Estal CEO Gerald Alberti, Stéphane Royère, Head of Business Area Print & Packaging at Kurz and David Yepes, Marketing Director Europe, High Value Solutions at Avery Dennison addressed the genesis of Make a Mark and where it is headed. This year, Make a Mark is a partner of the 2022 edition of the Formes de Luxe Awards.

What was the starting point for Make a Mark?

David Yepes: The goal is to get closer to brands, generate new leads and opportunities and to learn how we can provide a glimpse into the future of packaging trends, including sustainability and design.

Gerald Alberti: We always knew that proximity with designers was paramount for our business and we thought it would be interesting to connect with them through a totally new concept using our materials and products as much as possible. Often when it’s time to come up with a real design, there are numerous obstacles, constraints and limits due to costs or timing. But when creating a concept, you are free. This is what we’ve done with Make a Mark: the designer has total creative freedom with our products as resources. The international aspect is also primordial: we wanted to collaborate with designers from across the globe. For example, for the first edition we’ve worked with agencies in China, Australia, Europe, the US, South America… this was very powerful for us.

DY: At Avery Dennison we’ve been engaging with designers for a number of years, but we wanted to move a step further to create a true platform with the ecosystem in a 360° approach. We’re not only connecting closely with our two partners—Kurz and Estal— but we’re also creating a platform for designers and other actors with in the ecosystem. I wasn’t around for the genesis of Make a Mark as I joined the project when Ralph Olthoff moved to other responsibilities within the company.

Stéphane Royère: Given that our three companies are complementary, we each bring a building block to the project with the common goal of addressing the premium market. We would never have been able to do this on our own.

Are Kurz, Avery Dennison and Estal the sole financial contributors, or do the partner suppliers also help fund the project?

SR: Our three founding companies are the majority contributors, but the suppliers contribute financially in the sense that they take on testing and sampling costs. This is a very demanding project both in terms of time and costs, so yes, everyone is investing.

GA: Our goal is to create 360° design projects; we provide the glass, foils and labels, but we need specialists in the area of closures, capsules and printing. In future editions we hope that even more suppliers will come on board, such as those specialized in zamak or accessories, for example. For the 2022 edition we aim to add beauty concepts to the roster, so we’ll need companies that offer packaging expertise specific to the beauty space.

How are you communicating the project to brands?

DY: LUXE PACK Monaco was a major venue for us to highlight the project and the reaction from the community was overwhelmingly positive, both from brands and from designers and suppliers who want to come on board for future editions. It goes without saying that we are amplifying our normal communication channels: the book, the website, social media interactions and promotional events. We’re making sure that the project is visible in all channels.

GA: Another point of the collaboration is that the three founding companies are sharing contacts, which means more leads.

How did Make a Mark impact your innovation platform?

SR: Since we gave carte blanche to designers, we had to find solutions for packaging concepts that were sometimes extremely complex. For the Denomination project, for example, the designer came up with a grid-like decor wrapping around the entire bottle (see photo p. 59), but we couldn’t achieve this with a traditional label. So we brainstormed and came up with a solution that entailed direct screenprinting on the bottle in relief via one of Kurz’s subsidiaries; a technology generally used for decorating tubes.

Another example is the color effect obtained under the base of Smith Lumen’s bottle, Magma (see photo, above). We came up with the idea of using insert molding, a decoration technology for door trims in the auto industry. And for Butterfly Cannon’s bottle, which required a label that could go through the wash and come out unscathed, Avery came up with a resistant glue and at Kurz we developed a particularly resistant film. These innovations aren’t just for a bottle or two, but thanks to Make a Mark can be produced on an industrial scale. We also need to remember that this first edition of Make a Mark was developed during the Covid crisis, so it goes to show that where there is a will, there is a way!

What came out of this first edition that you weren’t expecting?

DY: Seeing that brands were quickly buying some of the projects was a welcome surprise and shows the level of impact that Make a Mark has had on the community. Of the 18 projects, four have been acquired by brands and will be launched on the market in 2022. These will be exclusive to the brands that purchased them.

SR: Yes, in addition to the fun, creative side of this project, it’s bringing business to our eco-system.

GA: All of the projects are “ready to market” and the technology has been vetted for production on an industrial scale. A brand buying something that has been tested and analyzed is a real advantage.

What form will Make a Mark take in 2022?

GA: We aim to have around 60 designers over three years, and we’ll see if we continue beyond that.

SR: The first edition was devoted to wine and spirits and of the next 20 projects slated for 2022, four will be devoted to HBC (health and beautycare), meaning skincare, shampoo and even fragrance. We are seeing these industries increasingly moving from plastics to glass containers, so it makes sense, especially in the area of refills. Our aim is to boost the design possibilities in this new segment while staying in our catchment area of wine and spirits. Beauty is very design focused and crossing these two segments from a design perspective can give a lot of power and ideas to both parties.

DY: We have a lot already in the pipeline for year two and even year three, so it’ll only get bigger, more exciting and more disruptive! In addition, for the upcoming edition of the Make a Mark book we are in discussions with a major publishing house and we’ll continue disrupting when it comes to the promotional side of the operation. This will create an even bigger connection between the designers and the luxury community.

Will the pool of suppliers working with designers expand for future editions?

GA: Any supplier that can offer innovative solutions will add value to this project.

SR: In the first edition we had designers from Australia, South Africa, Mexico, Chile, France, Italy, the UK to name just a few, and we’re now getting inquiries from more ‘exotic’ regions. These agencies will want to work with their local partners and will therefore bring new players into the game. This means we’ll be seeing companies with new technologies and areas of expertise that will enrich both the project and our clients, the brands.

DY: Make a Mark is a three-year journey, and we know we can develop it into something even bigger than what it is today. It’s not just about current trends, it’s about the design of the future! 

This interview was originally published in the winter 2021 issue of our sister publication Formes de Luxe

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