Packaging: Ethnic Condiment or Beverage


Michael Chou, Packaging for Moroccan spices.

Elijah Ervin, Packaging for Indian loose tea.

Myra Rose, Packaging for Nigerian tea.

William Schultz, Packaging for Thai tea.

Level: , ,
Duration: 4 weeks
Category: ,
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Bookmark Project

Project Brief

Design a series of labels for three flavors or varieties of the condiment or beverages. The packaging should project an ethnically authentic feel, while also appealing to a market broader.
Select one of the following ethnic cuisines for your project (or propose a culture you'd like to focus on).
• Moroccan
• Thai
• Indian
• Greek
• Caribbean
• Japanese

Visual research

  • Research your selected culture and its cuisine.
  • Gather images of the culture’s visual language — colors, patterns, typography, imagery. (Must use Art Library as source for much of your research rather than Pinterest or Google image search.)
  • Make a mood board with visuals that will inspire this design — from Art Library research — both print and digital sources; digital pictures you shoot, other image searching.

Learning Objectives

  • Experience and understand some of the challenges of working with and creating 3-dimensional forms for packaging.
  • Learn about other cultures in researching for this project.
  • Learn visual research practices, beyond the usual internet image search.
  • Use process — research, explore, select, design, refine, produce — to achieve your final result.
  • Learn about and include required elements of food packaging, e.g. nutrition facts, net weight information, etc.


Deliverables included:

  • Visual inventory of product landscape (e.g. competitors, where it is sold, how it is sold, etc.)
  • Mood board of your visual cultural research for inspiration (pattern, color, architecture, typography, forms…)
  • Minimum of three concept sketches, with a pdf presentation that includes visual inventory and mood board
  • Final packaging design, flat art and 3D comps or photographs of final packages.



I've given this assignment probably six or more times. I have generally been pleased with the designs the students produced. A few years ago, I added a workshop on visual research (by our Art Library director). That resulted in a notable improvement in terms of their visual research of the culture they were focusing on. This took students beyond the "easy" image searches where the images found may or may not be from that culture or authentic reflections of it.

In most of their design classes, they are working with 2-dimensional forms or digital spaces. There's always a fun learning curve for them in producing 3-dimensional pieces. Even if it is a label wrapped around a bottle, they start realizing that you can't see everything on the front and wrapping around a form doesn't always line up well on the back. So the get a lot more experience prototyping and then making good quality images of their final pieces.

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