Prototypes & Comps

Front Panel April 2012

Posted: April 8, 2012

Lattes and Laser Cutting
A Japanese café caters to coffee-loving creatives.
Espresso makers, grinders and coffee makers are some of the machines you typically expect to see in a café. But how about a laser cutter? Designers in Shiboya, Japan, now have a place where they can get their cappuccino fix and fabricate their caffeine-driven concepts via an on-site laser cutter to transform sheets of paper, wood and plastic into 3-D mock-ups, packages and point-of-purchase displays. The place is FabCafé, and it opened on March 7.
The café was launched by Toshiya Fukuda, Chiaki Hayashi and Mitsuhiro Suwa, who are creatives themselves. Their desire was to create a fun space that inspires designers and provides the tools to test their ideas out.
To ensure its space was as special as its services, FabCafé hired two up-and-coming Japanese architects, Yuri Naruse and Jun Inokumato. The pair created a space that perfectly serves FabCafé’s dual role as collaborative meeting space (plenty of outlets for designers’ laptops and tablets) and coffee shop (bright, open floor plan with stylish seating) and somehow made a fabrication shop fit right in.
FabCafé also benefits from the technical and creative guidance of Hiroya Tanaka, associate professor at Keio University SFC and founder of FabLab Japan.
Not all the creative work at FabCafé happens on the fabrication side of the business. The café also makes a cute marshmallow latte.

Oreo Turns 100
On March 6, 1912, Nabisco, (now part of Kraft Foods Inc. (Northfield, IL),  combined two decoratively embossed, chocolate-flavored biscuits with a creamy filling to create the Oreo biscuit. Today, Oreo cookies come in several varieties, including a Triple Double Oreo that adds another layer of cream, as well as a vanilla wafer. In its century-long history, Oreo has also undergone some significant packaging changes.

Consumers bought Oreos in a biscuit box that was taller than it was wide.
The cookies moved to a paperboard package.
Oreo used a much more colorful version of the paper-board package. For much of the snack’s early history,
the color yellow played a huge part in Oreo branding.
While the Oreo package structure is similar to what we have today, it sported a very different red-and-white color scheme.
The packaging has the familiar blue-and-white color scheme. With its thicker strokes, lettering for the Oreo logo starts to look more like the modern version.
Effective use of shadowing and outlining gives the logo a more dimensional look. Yellow is introduced back into the package design as the font color for the tag line, “America’s Favorite Cookie.”

Investing in the Future
AIGA’s survey of more than 300 design leaders reveals that cautious optimism about the economy may lead to more hiring and investments in hardware and software. More than a quarter (27.7%) of those surveyed felt that opportunities to hire additional staff are increasing, and more than a third (37.6%) said their ability to buy new hardware and software would be better in 2012.

“The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.”
— Edwin Herbert Land, American scientist, inventor and cofounder of Polaroid Corp.

Brilliant Execution
Designed to Shine from foil and films manufacturer ITW Foils shows creative examples of hot stamping, cold foil transfer, foil laminates, transfer metallization and UV film casting. Detailed descriptions reveal key differences between the applications and how they can enhance a brand’s market strategy.
The guide also addresses myths about the environmental impact of metallic effects, dedicating a section to sustainability concerns, complete with a product-by-product grading system. Issues discussed include application compatibility with recycled paper and paperboards, and how each effect impacts a package’s recyclability and compostability. Designed to Shine is available for $39.99 through the ITW Foils web site,

The Halo Effect
Consumers are mistaking packaged foods labeled as “fair trade” to be lower-calorie products, according to recent research. The research suggests that the halo effect that applies to food health claims—where foods labeled “low fat,” “high fiber,” etc., are often erroneously assumed to be lower in calories—also applies to ethical claims.
Researchers Norbert Schwarz from University of Michigan, Jonathon Schuldt of California State University-Northridge and Dominique Muller of the University of Grenoble in France conducted two studies on the subject. In the first study, some participants were told that a hypothetical company pays cocoa farmers 50% more than the standard market price for cocoa, while other participants were told that the farmers receive less-than-fair prices. In the second study, some participants were told that the company offers excellent wages and health care to employees of its cocoa suppliers in West Africa and donates more to local charities than do other companies. Other participants were told the opposite or nothing at all about the company’s labor practices.
All participants were then asked questions about the product’s attributes. In both studies, the researchers found that not only was fair trade perceived as lower in calories, but also that the effect is not restricted to the fair trade advertising claim. Among those participants with strong ethical food values, the chocolate was also judged as lower-calorie when a company was described as treating its workers ethically as compared to unethically.

Use of a fair trade certification mark, such as the one pictured above, can lead
to positive consumer perceptions about the nutritional value of a packaged food brand’s products.

Fast Fact
$78 billion
Expected value of the global pharmaceutical packaging market by 2017, fueled by a strong compound annual growth rate of 7.3%. Plastic bottles, blister packaging and drug-delivery devices are the main revenue-generating segments within the industry, with growth in drug-delivery devices expected to be the highest.
— Source: “Pharmaceutical Packaging Industry - 2011 Yearbook,” a report by GBI Research

Structures Made Simple
Structural Packaging: Design Your Own Boxes and 3-D Forms by Paul Jackson is written to help designers create 3-D packaging forms that are specific to the markets versus providing designers templates of generic structures. Jackson has been a professional paper folder and paper artist since 1982 and has taught the techniques of folding for more than 150 university-level design courses in the U.K., Germany, Belgium, the U.S.,
Canada and Israel. The book, published by Laurence King Publishers, teaches the underlying principles of packaging construction. Each chapter concludes with photographs and drawings of creative examples of packaging designs made using the principles outlined in the preceding chapter. Structural Packaging: Design Your Own Boxes and 3-D Forms has a retail price of $35 and is available on