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Design Trends 2016, Episode 5: Planet Undigital

On our recent product finding and design exploration trip to London, we visited the Natural Organic Products Europe trade fair. What we found was that the undigital trend is still going full steam, especially for natural, organic, sustainable products.

According to the dieline one segment of the 2016 trends for packaging design is what they call "ornately old-fashioned", a trend that idealizes the best elements of the past and places value on hand-crafting skills such as drawing, calligraphy and wood cuts.  Because non-digital art skills are becoming more rare, their value and meaning to consumers is increasing.

"Ornately old-fashioned" is not exactly the same thing as undigital, as it does not mean that at some point designs were actually drawn by hand, however as the following designs show there is a lot of overlap in terms of style and design elements.

Above: Bread bags by Scandinavian Design Group 

Above: Designed by BrandWagon, Dr. Feelgood popsicles are all-natural, dairy-free with no refined sugar.

Above: Designed by Horse, The Adventurous Blends of William Whistle makes heavy use of hand drawn illustrations to tell the story of their tea.

3 Above: Designed by Icono, undigital hand drawn artwork pleasing to the eyes and a feeling of natural homeyness. 

But  as Butterflies & Hurricanes is on a mission to increase the level of design in the Czech Republic and help companies reduce waste and give back to the their communities via more sustainable actions, designs, materials, and processes  we wanted to look at design in the natural and organic sector.



So, at the Natural & Organic Products fair in London we studied the packaging of the many products on display there.

Photo by Michaela Thomas

What we found was that the undigital style of design that is trending in packaging in general is at full steam in the natural and organic section of the market.

Photo by Michaela Thomas

Photo by Michaela Thomas

Photo by Michaela Thomas

Photo by Michaela Thomas

Photo by Michaela Thomas

Photo by Michaela Thomas

Photo by Michaela Thomas

Above: All natural tampons.  Photo by Michaela Thomas

Photo by Bee's Wrap

Photo by Alan Thomas

Combined with the visual aesthetics of undigital design are the use of recycled materials, and a move away from more energy- and chemically -intensive glossy printing is widespread. Also interesting is that more and more, companies are setting up sustainability departments and hiring Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs).

Photo by Alan Thomas

WHAT IS NEXT?

If you are wondering where this trend is heading, and what it may evolve into, we found a few clues at the fair that involve "new" materials for packaging, though they are indeed very old.

Photo by Michaela Thomas

Savannah Bee cream is made from the special wax for queen bees it is naturally fortified with with many nutrients that are vital for keeping human skin young-looking. The company funnels many of its profits into educational programs in schools aimed at teaching students the importance of bees to our survival on the planet, and programs which promote changes that will help protect the bees.

The packaging ing on Savannah Bee, is "vegan" leather, otherwise known as Kraftpaper which can be from recycled sources and recycled again. 

Photo by Michaela Thomas

Perhaps the oldest packaging material there is, palm leaves wrap this organically grown high quality tea, and pays tribute to diversity by brining cultural styles and designs from the east.

Michaela Thomas with the tea seller in her regional tradition decorative dress. Photo by Alan Thomas

The main point here: is that it appears this trend is still gathering steam as opposed reaching its peak.  And with the world becoming every more digital and how much of the day we spend looking at digital devices, the break undigital designs give the eyes is not only welcome, but often becoming necessary.

The concern about the spread of this trend is that non-organic and non-sustainable products will begin wider use these elements to make their products appear more eco organic or sustainable than they are and thus subvert the trend.  In this case it is important to remember that ethical behavior and transparency pays off, literally, in the long run.  And it contains a warning, most people now have a smart phone in their pocket. Which allows an able user to access just about any information there is.  Therefore, if your product, packaging or branding is lying it customers, the chance of it being discovered and discrediting your entire brand is increasing daily.

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