Scissors & Synths

Creative endeavors every M-W-F.

The Disappearing Package by Aaron Mickelson

As a graphic designer, I love looking at packaging. Lovely Package, a package design blog, is a daily read. Even in the supermarket, I snap photos of packaging I like:




And for future craft projects, I keep cute clothes tags, boxes, envelopes, used wrapping paper and ribbons — all for reusing, upcycling, and/or repurposing. You’d be surprised how much you accumulate. A monthly purge is needed so you’re left with the “premium” scrap!

Which brings me to The Disappearing Package.


The Disappearing Package is a Masters Thesis Project by Pratt Institute student Aaron Mickelson.

Every year, we throw away a ton of packaging waste (actually, over 70 million tons). It makes up the single largest percentage of trash in our landfills (beating out industrial waste, electronics, food… everything). Figures released by the EPA indicate this problem is getting worse every year.

As a package designer (and grad student—meaning I know everything and can solve every problem, naturally), I was concerned about where this trend is going. Of course, many talented designers working in the field have made great efforts over the past few years to reduce the amount of packaging that goes onto a product. However, for my Masters Thesis, I asked the question: Can we eliminate that waste entirely?

Here he explores ways of reducing packaging material to the bare minimum. I think it’s a great concept which illustrates the possibilities using real products – comparing the existing packaging to how it could be repackaged with less or no material wasted. Which means less crafty scrap for me to hoard, but if it means less trash, then it’s all well and good. Constraint makes us better crafters and designers.

I like how he quantifies the waste generated by existing packaging:


And presents the “Disappearing Solution” which is still nicely branded:


This Nivea sample reminded me of White Rabbit candy’s edible inner wrapper, made of rice paper, that prevents the chewy milk candy from sticking to the outer plastic wrapper. Now I’m craving for some White Rabbit…

white rabbit


The other sample I really liked was the OXO plastic containers. Instead of its branding and product information printed on paper, it’s on the product itself, but washes off with soapy water.

oxo-new-2 oxo-method

Check out the rest on the site – Twinings, Glad and Tide. As told to Wired:

[Mickelson says] “I hope, at the end of the day, I have shown that sustainability can still be beautiful. I leave that up to my audience to decide.”

Screenshots from The Disappearing Package website.

– Jo


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This entry was posted on July 10, 2013 by in Random Wednesdays and tagged , , .
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