2003 Annual Design Review Packaging Best of Category

Posted inID Mag


Consumer-electronics packaging tends to scream for attention, using loud graphics, bright colors and complex shapes that turn retail displays into shouting matches between products. The Techlab design team at Nike in Beaverton, Ore., took a different, more restrained approach to its point-of-sale packaging for Nike Portable Sport Audio (PSA) products, which include MP3, CD and radio players and their accessories.

By resisting information overload, the packaging represents “a distinct island of calm in a sea of chaos,” said senior industrial designer Aurelie Tu.

Recyclable Poly(ethylene terephthalate) glycol (PETG) packaging was reduced to its simplest form. The player units (blue for mp3s, orange for CDs and red for radios) rest on contoured white cradles within clear plastic bubbles that allow for easy viewing. A bright white label on the back of the package is accented sparingly with the same colors used for the product. An understated, white point-of-sale pedestal provides a quiet but inviting display for the units. In keeping with the PSA’s organic forms, the packaging has no corners. “Our goal was to enhance the products’ simplicity and present them with honesty and purity,” Tu explained.

Jurors appreciated the way the packaging made the product approachable. “It’s rewarding on every level,” Will Miller said. “Physically, the shape and proportions of it appeal to all of the senses. You want to pick it up; that’s the first step to purchase. And, graphically, all the elements of information are there for you.” Valerie Aurilio found the packaging “very true to Nike’s celebration of the athlete. It inspires you in the way Nike usually does.”

Pat Matson Knapp


How were you trying to distinguish the PSA line and how does the packaging reflect the brand qualities you wanted to emphasize?The PSA products were designed for simplicity and ease of use, so the display and packaging echo this philosophy. Instead of competing with the product, both the casing and the pedestal involve soft white forms and quiet graphic treatments. At every turn-from first glance at the point-of-sale display, to the packaging, to the product itself-the PSA collection reflects a simple, organic design ethos that product form should match the athlete’s form.

What was your biggest design challenge in the project?The PSA display was to be used globally, so our biggest challenge lay in successfully addressing the needs of retailers worldwide. The fixture had to accommodate space, theft and durability concerns of the largest U.S. retailers as well as the smallest European or Asian retailers. Our solution lay in modularity; the rigid, floor-standing unit converts into a countertop display when the top portion of the pedestal is removed. The flexibility of the security cabling system allows retailers to vary the number of products displayed.

What factors were involved in specifying materials and fabrication techniques?We explored a variety of interesting options for presenting the PSA line with the maximum and minimal costs. Initial ideas using coated stretch fabrics and lighter structures eventually gave way to more durable and cost-effective solutions, which also proved easier to produce and assemble. The fortunate result is that we maintained a lot of the initial design intent despite replacing the cloth medium with thermoformed plastics, which proved to be a more appropriate material for the product’s environments.

If you had to choose just three words to describe the packaging and display as a design system, what would they be?Integrated. Unique. Functional.

BIO Consisting of veterans from the world’s top design consultancies and corporations, the Nike Techlab product team enhances Nike’s brand and athletic insight with contributions from international technology partners, such as Philips and Seiko. The group, which includes five product designers, has received global design recognition.

CLIENT | DESIGN Nike Techlab Audio Team, Beaverton, Ore.: Aurelie Tu, senior industrial designer; Scott Wilson, creative director, Timing/Techlab; Ed Boyd, global creative director; Dave McLaughlin, creative director, image design; Lael Tyler, graphic designer; Steve Berry, cad sculptor; Greg Vissia, program managerMATERIALS | FABRICATION PSA packaging: Vacuum-formed PETG, vacuum-formed polystyrene; PSA point-of-sale display: vacuum-formed polystyrene, stamped sheet metal, formed metal rod SOFTWARE Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, AliasWavefront, Rhinoceros

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