Sunday, December 5, 2010

why is package design so much better in the UK?

last year, i had the pleasure of visiting england for the first time in my life. since it had been a dream of mine to visit this beautiful country, i couldn't wait to embark on a series of quintessential tourist-y jaunts. but one place that is not on a tourist's map is the grocery store. being a graphic designer, i had always heard that design was far superior than that in the states. so, what better place to confirm this than visiting the grocery store myself.

initially, it was not my intention to solely visit the grocery store only to see what sits on their shelves, but because i was hungry, and i wanted something quick and cheap to eat.
but as i was perusing the aisles and shelves, i noticed there was a huge difference in their display techniques. not sure if this was intentional of course, but mainly with the individual products themselves.

there's something to be said for simplicity in design. since we are all consumers, i tend to notice these things, not just from a designer's perspective, but a customer as well. it's apparent that the package design in the U.S. is packed with so much information and crap, that i wonder, how can a customer accurately tell what's good and what isn't good mainly from the busy packaging? i know i can't, and considering i have used the same products for several years now, i guess i have just taken it all for granted. 

until recently.

not so on the shelves in the UK. just from wandering through the aisles, it's apparent that simple, clean package design is a must over in that part of the world. but i ask, why can't it be the same over here in the states? a "friend" of mine through the graphic design community once told me that he never noticed how poor the package design was in the states until he traveled abroad. however, it was more prevalent not just lined on grocery store shelves, but in environmental design as well (i.e. street signs, et al). until i visited england last year, i simply could not 'get' what he was saying, until i saw, first hand, with my own eyes. 

there's something to be said for simple graphic/package design. i'm sure the majority of our problem here in the western part of the world is mainly restrictions and the like, muddied with federal standards from the FDA—so i ask, how on earth can we work around this? what little package design i have in my portfolio, i am not the one who can accurately answer this question. the few package design projects i have worked on were not the common consumer item such as detergent and toilet paper, but something a little more obscure. 

oh, i give Target® credit. i love their product packaging and as a result, i frequently buy their products—for the most part, i'm happy with their product line, but have been disappointed with a few items at the same time. i guess like with any product, it's hit or miss unless you have been a regular consumer of that item for some time.

regardless as to why we don't have extraordinary package design in the united states, what's important is that we necessarily don't. i will continue to search for that ideal design product, and at that point, i will purchase it in hopes of being satisfied with the product overall.

in the meantime, enjoy these product photos from package design in the UK.