The Polish market boasts a number of designers of international stature. Maciej Konopka, head of Brandy Design and professor of Fine Arts in Warsaw, shares his views on how ecological concerns are shaping design in the luxury packaging sector and other trends on the horizon.
What do you see as the major issues facing luxury packaging design from your perspective?
The challenge of the 21st century is no longer ecology in the broadest sense nor eco-design, but rather the creation of packaging that is totally biodegradable, has zero impact on the environment, retains its value in terms of communication and narration, and remains an effective marketing tool. It’s not difficult to come up with a packaging made of recycled paper, but the aim is to create an exclusive and exceptional pack that will decompose in a fortnight. I’ve seen champagne bottles woven with linen, made by a company in Marseilles—this is just one example.
What are the next steps?
The day will come when a pack’s biodegradability will be the mark of its modernity; it will become more important than even a bottle’s transparency.
Are you already at this stage?
At Brandy Design we are moving in this direction, but the client’s mentality has to change first, not to mention that of the end consumer. The latter, an elite consumer, will be looking for innovations like bottles made of linen and will appreciate its luxury and modernity.
Is ecology the only new element in Polish design?
Not at all: the packaging also has to tell a story. This can be in a direct story-telling approach, such as a printing text on the packaging as illustrated by our bottle created for Polish Baczewski whisky, made in Lvov from 1782 and resurrected by a group based in Austria. Another example is a sachet of tea that spells out a legend about virgins picking tea flower buds for the emperor at dawn. But we don't always need words. The shape of the pack, the material, the graphic motifs… all of these can interplay with the tradition and cultural codes of the consumer. Take, for example, boxes for cosmetics in the shape of Zen pebbles or a package for codfish, which in its minimalist form communicates that it is the purest and most ecologically fished cod in the world. But in my view minimalism is a bit out of fashion. The artisanal, "vintage" tradition and the wealth of decorative colors count for a lot in today’s market.