A Designer’s View: Natural Product Expo East

Posted by | September 24, 2016 | ,

Written by Jacquelyn Olivieri

A Designer’s View: Natural Product Expo East

As a designer exploring the show floors of the Natural Product Expo East through a very large and cacophonous Baltimore Convention Center, one can not help but notice the design trends shifting in terms of on-pack communication for food and beverage packaging. Natural and organic has in the recent past been communicated through farmer’s market nuances of perhaps slatted barn wood donning carved wood logos with country themed brand names and burlap overload. Now there seems to be a simplified, and artfully holistic translation of what natural and organic is. This makes complete sense since we as a culture have now fully emerged from this “get back to the farm” bubble. 

With natural, organic and clean-eating transitioned into mainstream, the availability of these products has spread beyond the health food and specialty grocers. And with the overarching need and desire to simplify our design practice and messaging, it is clear why packaging design trends have shifted to a more earthy and approachable color palette void of texture, utilizing typographic treatments that are clean yet ornate and friendly in character. More hand-drawn elements can be seen across the board to create authentic and personal branding. Less prevalent are the use of tricks and traps, strokes and shadows. Even brand names have ventured from the overly descriptive and corporate to a more trustworthy, familial voice.

But I’m not complaining here. This style trend is soothing to the eye and the soul. Simple and minimal yet impactful with clear communication. Just warm, approachable, clean beauty that grabs your attention by standing out amongst the on-shelf clutter. For one thing- from a designer’s and a consumer’s standpoint, I am definitely appreciative of no longer being beat upside the head with barnwood imagery and very large and invasive NonGMO certified stickers to grasp which products are natural and better for you vs. not. If it’s simply stated – we get it. 

If only we could leave the whole cumbersome, intrusive sticker thing to the food products that are NOT NonGMO and loaded with additives. In case the food tycoons haven’t clued in yet- we as a society say NO to GMO & additives. And as a designer who is creating, living, eating and breathing in this changing post-natural environment I say NO to disruptive and ugly on pack communication for food products that should be good for you, period. 

Jacquelyn Olivieri is a Senior Designer at Gammon Ragonesi Associates.