As far back as I can remember, I've had a minor obsession with packaging, and I always enjoy discovering new approaches to packaging, whether it's cosmetics, food, fashion or decoration. Travel is the best source for new packaging observations and inspiration, and I always take notes of what's new and innovative out there, especially ideas that seem to be culturally unique.
Japan, for instance, is a particularly fascinating place for packaging enthusiasts; gift-wrapping is a prized art form and imbues a gift with special significance, so it should come as no surprise that the Japanese market offers amazing variety and ingenuity when it comes to packaging. In the same way that some may get a high from art museums and spending hours in them, I am known to wander the alleys of supermarkets and drugstores abroad in search of that unusually clever packaging and trying to spot what may turn out to be the next big trend.
For the longest time, I focused my studies on branding and thought I would wind up specializing in packaging, so it's also not terribly surprising to find lots of clippings on packaging ideas in my Evernote, the walls of my office and in my home. I suppose it comes from my appreciation of order and aesthetics, and packaging is a perfect marriage of the two. When shopping for those long-coveted shoes or bags, I keep their original packaging, whether its dust bags or the outer box, and even when I am overseas I always try to bring the packaging back which doesn't always work out so well for the baggage allowance! There's just something about having the original packaging that makes an item feel a little more special in my wardrobe.
So when it came to designing the packaging of THE FIFTH COLLECTION, I started by pulling out all the boxes that I had been keeping for years and cataloging them, from the feel and finish, to how they open and close, to the size and even the unboxing experience (youtube has tons of videos of this). I'm sure it will sound crazy to some, but it's interesting to note that despite knowing what’s in the box, one often gets just as big a thrill from simply opening it. Take Apple for example: we all know the iPhone by now, but that simple, well-designed box makes you feel like you just got yourself the latest jewel on the market.
For THE FIFTH COLLECTION, we wanted our boxes to be as special as the items we sell, but also intelligent and practical enough so that our collector would keep them and even use them for other purposes. The challenge was coming up with packaging that would accommodate our wide variety of items since every item we sell is unique, and even accommodate an items original packaging as the case may be. In the process, we realized it was a Herculean task: Hermès alone currently offers 188 different size of boxes!
With the help of The Architect (aka Michael), and after numerous back-and-forths with our packaging engineer (yes, there is such a thing), we finally designed something that we are very happy with and hope that you will be too. No expense was spared: our boxes use the finest paper from Gmund, a 185 year-old paper mill near Munich, Germany, that sets the standard for the rest of the world; and no detail was too small: we chose our brand's shade of grey so they will integrate with any interior or wardrobe, whatever your style.
We call our boxes écrins, the french word for jewel case, because it follows our philosophy of not eclipsing the content while still protecting it from the elements Our écrins have a few more suprises in store for you, but we thought we'd leave something to the imagination! We are expecting them to arrive mid-April, so stay tuned!