"The key is the ability to understand the brand, its DNA and its objectives."
Vincent Villeger, keynote speaker at PIDA 2018, is a specialist in the field of luxury packaging. As a creative director, his previous work includes work for brands such as YSL, Givenchy and, not least: Burberry. Here, in our latest blog spot, he shares some of his experiences, trend spotting, and thoughts about the packaging of the future.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
“I was born and raised in France, and have been living in the UK for 20 years. Having studied product design, I graduated from colleges in both Paris (ENSAAMA) and Birmingham (Birmingham City) and had the opportunity to work in beauty and luxury packaging very early on in my career. I have since specialised in this field, and I now work as a creative consultant across three main pillars: Beauty, Luxury and Digital Commerce.
My first ever commercialised work was for Issey Miyake perfumes, and I have since produced designs for YSL, Givenchy, Van Cleef & Arpels perfumes, Made.com, and of course Burberry. I have also designed many products – mostly home accessories.
My approach to designing packaging is heavily influenced by my background in product design. For me, it is a truly 3-dimensional discipline where structure, materials and processes preside over graphic treatment.”
You’re the keynote speaker at PIDA 2018, what will you talk about at the event?
“For these events, I will be focusing specifically on packaging for digital commerce. My presentation will address why design should be given careful consideration when developing packaging for digital commerce, exploring the opportunities and challenges involved. There are so many aspects to consider! The impact of getting it wrong can be huge, but there are also great rewards available if you know how to leverage the opportunities.”
There is so much at stake at that moment of unboxing, and this is what I will be exploring in my presentation.
What do you think of this year’s brief Unboxing?
“I always relish the opportunity to give talented students some steer, but it was the brief that really made me want to be a part of PIDA.
The brief is very relevant and focuses on what I consider to be a key element of a successful piece of packaging: the consumer experience. There is so much at stake at that moment of unboxing, and this is what I will be exploring in my presentation.”
What do you do as a Creative Director?
“My role is essentially to guide my clients through their project, from concept to production. Some of my clients have a good understanding of the design process, however most people have had very limited previous exposure to packaging. So although I obviously provide the creative work, from concept to final designs, much of the added value which I bring to the table lies in this guiding role. Where to start? What elements to consider? Which pitfalls to avoid? How to maximise the opportunity? How to approach the project? These are all questions I help my clients answer.
For larger clients, it is also about supporting the teams they have in place - a scenario where my experience in-house, dealing with stakeholders at all levels of a business, is a great asset.”
The luxury consumer is getting younger, which impacts the design of luxury packaging where the use of traditional codes such as leather, wood and gold is no longer sufficient – or relevant.
What trends have you identified in packaging and luxury?
“Personalisation remains a key trend, although I believe we will start seeing new creative ways of addressing the consumer’s appetite for packaging that is unique to them - it won’t just be about putting someone’s name on a pack any longer. Digital print technology has evolved greatly, and is likely to be a key driver in this.
The consumers and brands' heightened sensitivity to sustainability is impacting the luxury sector too. We are seeing new, more sustainable materials and processes being developed to support this, such as the recycling of coffee cups or plastic waste. This will influence the design of luxury packaging greatly.
In addition, the luxury consumer is getting younger, which impacts the design of luxury packaging where the use of traditional codes such as leather, wood and gold is no longer sufficient – or relevant.”
What about tomorrow’s packaging? What will packaging be like in five or ten years?
“Sustainability in packaging has finally become a major concern with the consumer, and although a clear approach hasn’t yet been defined, it will have a major impact on the future of packaging. Consumers will increasingly expect packaging to provide genuine added value in order to justify its very existence, and so we will see less of any packaging that is deemed unnecessary, or excessive.
There is a lot of talk about smart packaging, powered by a variety of emerging technologies such as RFID or NFC. There may well be some potential there, but I am yet to see a convincing application for it. I think it will be a case of the brands figuring out what content would be relevant, identifying applications that add value for the consumer, rather than just satisfy the brand’s desire to broadcast information.
And of course, as online shopping continues to grow, it will impact the morphology of packaging and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw great “cross-pollination" between retail packaging and digital commerce packaging.
“It’s about looking for the unrefined, rather than the pre-processed. I like to hang around antiques shops, flea-markets and museums.
Where do you find inspiration?
“Inspiration is not about where you look. It is about how you look at it. I always actively observe what surrounds me, through the filter of whatever design issue I am working on at that moment.
When researching concepts I have learned that it's important to look for original material: if I am designing a perfume bottle, I know the answer won't lie in the design of other perfume bottles. In addition, over-reliance on online sources (such as Pinterest, or search engines) will lead to a mere recycling of someone else’s perspective. So it’s about looking for the unrefined, rather than the pre-processed. I like to hang around antiques shops, flea-markets and museums.
But for me, the designer’s role is above all to address a clearly defined set of objectives - it’s the difference between design and fine art. Ultimately my role is to find the solution which is best suited to the brand I work for – it really isn’t about me. The key is the ability to understand the brand, its DNA and its objectives. This is why the brief is so important, and should be given the greatest consideration by both the client, and the designer.”
Tell us something about your experience of working with Burberry.
I worked with Burberry for 8 years, during a key period which saw the brand transform from a licensing operation to the n.1 British luxury brand. The team which I built and lead was in charge of all packaging for the brand: be it retail, beauty or digital commerce. My most memorable achievements there were the complete redesign of the retail packaging (including the development of many bespoke materials), and the launch of so many fragrance ranges including My Burberry, Mr Burberry, Burberry Body, Burberry Brit and finally Burberry Bespoke, the brand’s most exclusive fragrance.
Working in-house gave me the opportunity to learn about development, production, marketing and commercial aspects too – which gave me the unorthodox profile I have today.
My greatest pleasure was to work alongside such a talented set of individuals: everyone there was at the top of their game, and I learned so much from them!”