Frilly Lizards’ Thoughts

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Inspiration & Feedback on Art & Design. Please participate, share your views on any works of art or design; the artists and designers work you admire that give you inspiration in which ever form or discipline. Thanks you for taking time to read this. I’m interested to hear everyone’s opinion please share yours.

Wrexham Market Brief

Were currently undertaking a brief to record data at Wrexham Market and turn the selected data (in which ever form you choose) into a visual. I recorded many types of information, three particular avenues caught my attention:

  • The phases I heard whilst wandering through the market (from both the stall vendors and shoppers).
  • The characters I encountered (both the stall vendors and shoppers).
  • The honesty of the food/freshness, lack of packaging and the raw honesty of the experience.

With my data recorded I began to consider various options and conduct some research, whilst researching I found this intresting post on Noisy Decent Graphics:

Unpackaged visit

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I went to Unpackaged the other day. John Grant and many others have talked about Unpackaged before, but briefly, it’s a shop where all the stuff they sell has no packaging.

I’ll admit I was hugely sceptical. It just sounds like some twee, middle England, poncey London, greenwashing fest. After all, anyone can sell this sort of stuff with no packaging.

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But I’m pleased to report it’s a lot, lot better than that. Sure – it’s small and it’s expensive, but it’s also brilliant. And it looks great.

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Those little boxes hold flour and nuts and dried banana skins and what not. They’re all designed to be easy to clean, even the tags can be wiped clean and reused for another product. That’s good sensible design.

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So you bring your own bag / box / jar and you save 50p. They will even refill olive oil bottles, which is pretty impressive.

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There are some things they can’t unpackage yet. Ecover won’t give them a great big vat of washing up liquid for example, but you can leave all the packaging there for recycling. I understand this is common practice in Germany?

There’s lots of great little ideas here. Yes, it needs to be bigger (in size and scale) and it needs to be cheaper to have a big effect, but it’s a great start and it’s a glimpse of how things could be. Surely all packaging designers should (nowadays) start with the goal of having no packaging and then work backwards from there?

UPDATE: Catherine Conway from Unpackaged has just emailed me to clarify a few points.

Firstly (and importantly) the shop was designed by Multistorey

Secondly she’s asked me to correct an inaccuracy,

“you mention that some things can’t be unpackaged- the Ecover example is wrong as they do provide us with vats of cleaning products” “most people buy it [Ecover] in refills from us.” “an example of something we can’t unpackage currently would be cotton wool or toothpaste.”

We also had a little discussion about what I meant by expensive. Cath says, “The question of whether it’s expensive is a moot point- our prices compare pretty favourably with like for like products (organic, fair trade) in supermarkets but are obviously more expensive than their value counterparts…”

I guess I should have been clearer. What I really mean is that for an unpackaged concept to be adopted across the whole country it would have to cater for the people that shop in Iceland as well. Do you know what I mean?

Anyway. Happy to clear all that up.

The area of sustainability in design is an area in which I feel very passionate about as do many designers and I think that we should utilize our skills to help promote this area and develop new ways in which we can improve designs to work efficiently with the environment, many countries already have many daily practices in place, Australia for example has many daily tasks and procedures implemented to aid this, why do we insist on over-packaging items that already have their own packaging? Markets and shop such as Unpackaged are to me the honest way to sell products.

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