Industry Info

Front Panel June/July 2015

Posted: July 22, 2015

The challenge: Design a limited-edition innovative paperboard toy package that can also be reused as an interactive structure for the toy. The Paperboard Packaging Alliance’s (PPA) 2015 Student Design Challenge (SDC) invites undergraduate students to put their design skills to the test. More than 200 university students have signed up to have their unique designs evaluated by packaging professors, paperboard industry representatives and a guest judge from Hasbro toy company.

 “Participating in the SDC allowed me to build my portfolio, to present something tangible,” says Lynsie Gibson, whose design won the SDC in 2009. “I don’t know if I would have gotten my first job out of school without it.”

Each year’s challenge mirrors what happens when a paperboard packaging company receives a new project request. Participating student designers take their ideas from concept to product launch. They get to experience packaging testing, develop targeted marketing and glimpse behind the scenes of the paperboard packaging industry.

Over time, the challenges have had a greater focus on sustainability and recyclability to reflect consumers’ increasing preference for these attributes in packaging. “Students who are entering the packaging design field need a multi-faceted background. They have to know the consumer side, the brand side, materials and technology, and they have to understand sustainability,” says Sandra Krasovec, Package Design editorial advisory board member and professor of packaging design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, another long-time participating school. “The SDC exposes them to all of these considerations.”

But students’ entries also reflect emerging trends in the consumer-packaging field. The SDC saw students tie social media into their package designs before it was the norm, and incorporate more interactive and multi-purpose elements into their designs as well. According to SDC judge Patrick Shields, who is director of structural design at RockTenn, “Every entry has a bright spot.”

A recent addition to the SDC is a guest judge from a consumer goods company that is relevant to the challenge scenario and requires packaging for their products. Representatives from top companies, such as Mars and Unilever, participated as guest judges in recent challenges, providing a different dimension to the SDC and an opportunity for students to showcase their skills to people who make final decisions on product packaging.

 “Getting industry recognition is very different from just getting an ‘A’ from your professor,” claims Robin Matusik, who won the 2005 SDC. She is now a package engineer for Hasbro Toys and will guest judge the 2015 SDC entries.

Universities across the U.S. and Canada with packaging design and engineering programs and courses are welcome to take part in the challenge. Participating in the SDC will also make them eligible to receive classroom materials and student scholarships. More information about PPA and the SDC is available at

Contest winners of the 2015 SDC will be announced at Pack Expo Las Vegas on September 28, 2015. 



Jazz Covers

Part design history, part trip down musical memory lane, Taschen’s ( anthology of Jazz album artwork is above all a treasure trove of creative and cultural inspiration. Spanning half a century, it assembles daring and dynamic Jazz album cover designs that helped make and shape not only a musical genre but also a particular way of experiencing life.

From the 1940s through to the decline of LP production in the early 1990s, each chosen cover design is distinct in the way it complements the energy of the album’s music with its own visual rhythms of frame, line, text and form. The book is authored by Joaquim Paulo and Julius Wiedeman. Paulo is a consultant for major record labels. He directs a number of radio stations in Portugal and flies to London, Paris, New York and São Paulo to enrich his collection of over 25,000 LPs. Wiedeman was an art editor for digital and design magazines in Tokyo.