Designing for Picplum - the Packaging Process

This guest post is by Stephanie Janning (@spjdesign). Stephanie is a freelance designer from Palo Alto, CA that worked with us to develop the new Picplum packaging.

When the Picplum guys approached me to help them design their photo packaging, I was psyched to try out a new form of design. Creating something chic and sleek in a 3 dimensional and functional product was a totally new challenge! To design the packages I used Adobe illustrator to develop the templates and would then create hand cut prototypes to test the more tactile elements of the design. As I am usually a 2d designer the task of rendering a 3d space in my mind was a great brain workout.

My first step was to figure out how the package should function. Should it be a simple sleeve meant to be tipped over, and meant to be tossed out, or a high quality package meant to store and protect? Or should it be side loading or top loading? Open or with a flap? Several different ideas were kicked around and tested on the road to perfecting the chic, sleek, and functional finished product.

Even once we landed on the general shape and mechanics, the issue of proportions and lines had yet to be conquered. Not only should the package function well and look nice, but it should also represent the aesthetic of Picplum’s identity at the same time. Soft lines, and simple shapes ended up being the best way to reflect the easy and simple approach of Picplum.

Figuring out the width of the envelope so that the pictures could be slipped in and out easily while still being hugged by the folder was tricky to perfect. Lots of trial and error testing went into the easy to insert but satisfyingly snug width of the final version.

Starting this project early in the company’s existence created a moving target of the average order size. At one point the sides of the envelope were gusseted, then there were adjusting scores to adjust for the differing order sizes.Once we were ready to go to production we were finally able to pin down out the carefully deliberated proportions in a way that looked and felt great.

Seeking out printers and figuring out their capabilities and limitations was a long and complicated process. Chatting with various shops about what was possible and available for the production of the package ended up effectively assisting in the design process. Adapting the package to the different options made it easier to pick a shop and make decisions on materials.Thankfully many of the print shops were eager to help and educate fledgling start-ups so the education we were given was great!

For most of the process purple paper was a must. But looking at sustainability and reliability of supply helped us discover the recycled paper material that I loved and is used today!

At the end of the day we now have a great product worthy of housing the beautiful prints brought to you by Picplum!