At the top, form and function blend

Bernard Abrams

January 29, 2014

8 Min Read
At the top, form and function blend

If packaging design competitions could hinge on marketers' wish lists, then the 2005 version staged by the Industrial Designers Society of America ( might be a model for the genre.

Going right to the top in blending form and function to make tedious jobs a little simpler, the recently named gold and silver winners mark a new level of acuity for the IDSA. They are almost ideally useful and are simple enough to be complicated.

The winners go to the top in more ways than one. Capturing the gold award, a paint container used by Akzo Nobel Decorative Coatings of Sassenheim, the Netherlands, does away with the need for a separate paint tray. The rectangular container, in 5- and 10-L quantities of the company's Flexa(R) white interior household paints for a total of eight stockkeeping units, is based on the structural design and engineering concepts of FLEX/the INNOVATIONLAB (

The idea that is so obvious, PD learns from FLEX managing director Ronald Lewerissa, is the snap-fit lid, injection-molded with a living hinge, that locks onto the other three flanged sides of the container. The lid folds back to form the paint tray and recloses securely when the job is done. Wide enough to handle all standard rollers, it takes one purchase and one cleanup out of the painting equation. And, he notes, it eliminates waste.

The lid is part of an all-polypropylene container injection-molded by Dijkstra Plastics ( that includes a fold-down carry handle, necessary because of the paint volumes sold. Color coding the lid subtly reinforces the size differentiation of the new containers.

Paint packaging ingenuity spills over into AmeriStars

Judges of this year's AmeriStar awards, hosted by the Institute of Packaging Professionals (, were also wowed by the picture of convenience painted by another home-decorating package, the project-sized Ready to Roll(TM) paint container from Dutch Boy(R), a div. of The Sherwin-Williams Co. Awarded Best of Show, the 2.5-gal, plastic container incorporates a built-in roller tray and a lid that's "a snap to open and close," according to Adam Chafe, Dutch Boy's vp of marketing.

"Our consumer research found that when it came to painting, the Ready to Roll paint container was far neater and far easier to use, transport, open and close, and more secure for storage than any of the other project-sized alternatives, such as three- or five-gallon buckets, or separate, one-gallon metal paint cans," Chafe says. "We've provided a package that makes any painting project simple, without all the mess."

While Dutch Boy declined to provide specific package information, PD can say that the rectangular, rounded-corner container is made from a lightweight, recyclable plastic. In 2002, Dutch Boy revolutionized paint "can" packaging with the introduction of the Twist & Pour(R) square, handled high-density polyethylene container (see PD, Oct. '02, p. 4), which also took home Best of Show in that year's AmeriStars.

Eliminating the need for a separate liner and a paint tray, the Ready to Roll integrates a plastic roller tray, along with a deep, wide opening to the paint well, enabling access by a 9- or 9 1/2-in.-wide roller, or up to a 4-in.-wide brush. A special, built-in pour spout in the tray allows the user to transfer paint into a smaller container for detail or trim work, while the package's sloped floor allows easy access to the last drops of paint, as they flow toward the front of the container.

Ready to Roll is available for the company's Dutch Boy Dirt Fighter(R), Bright White, Ceiling Solution Color Transforming Ceiling Paint and Dutch Boy Primer brands.

More information is available:

  • Institute of Packaging Professionals, 630/544-5050.

Further size and shade differentiation comes from the in-mold PP label produced and offset-printed in five colors by Drukkerij Verstraete ( Using a label design system created by pi global (, the graphics focus on a gleaming and dynamic metallic "brand arc." The system, a pi spokesperson notes, emphasizes the brand's "quality and modernity," assuring that its identity is distinctive while "communicating the new and innovative one-two paint system."

First brought into the marketplace in December 2004, the new containers are in almost full distribution, PD is informed by Jean-Paul Noonen, marketing manager, DIY, at Akzo Nobel Decorative Coatings. The new packages, he says, succeed a standard, round plastic container.

Sales, he notes, have increased around 50 percent since the introduction. "In the future," he says, "we plan to roll out colored wallpaints in [the PP container], also."

The capability to eliminate a separate dosing closure is part of the rationale for the laundry detergent bottle capturing the IDSA silver award. The Method(TM) 3X bottle used by San-Francisco-based Method Products apparently embodies an environmental outreach philosophy.

The 32-oz, high-density polyethylene bottle, designed by Karim Rashid, Inc. (, is extrusion/blow-molded into a sort of modified hourglass shape. Colored with a 3-percent pearlescent pigment additive, it is also decorated via IML in front and back. Following the bottle's configuration, the front label uses appealing stacked and folded laundry graphics designed by Kate Spade ( Method executives would not identify the bottle and label suppliers.

Metal cans can be innovative, too

Not to be outdone by its U.S. paint and coating colleagues, U.K-based Hammerite, a subsidiary of ICI Group, Europe, last year launched a shaped metal can to introduce a reformulated version of its flagship paint product into Poland. Created by metal packaging supplier Impress Group ( of Deventer, The Netherlands, the "wavy" steel can employs a patent-pending, post-print forming method especially suited to short runs.

According to Impress, in switching to a shaped can, Hammerite hoped to "reap the benefits of a new package fit to accompany the launch, boost the product's top-of-range image and make Hammerite stand out on the shelves."

Measuring 109 mm across by 89 mm high, the shapely paint can holds 650 mL of a special paint used by do-it-yourself enthusiasts for coating metal surfaces to make them rust-proof. The "three-finger can," as it has come to be known, is cylindrical in appearance, with the first wave, or bend, at the top, and three horizontal grooves running across one half of the can, resulting in a natural fingerhold. Says Impress, "The can guarantees excellent grip and unrivalled ease of use for decorators. Gone is the fear of the paint slipping out of the consumers' hands."

While the engineering technology for the forming process was developed by Impress at is research center in Crosmières, France, the can was manufactured at its plant in Norwich, U.K.

Since its introduction, the can has won several awards, including a Gold award in the Technical Innovation category and a Silver award for Functionality in The Metal Packaging Manufacturers Assn.'s Best in Metal competition, and a gold award in The Cans of the Year Awards 2004, sponsored by The Canmaker magazine.

More information is available:

Nor would they divulge any details about the hinged-cap dispensing closure that attaches to the bottle via a continuous-threaded finish. The transparent closure is a reservoir that fills to a single-load quantity of the detergent when the bottle is squeezed; ergo the pinch-waist configuration. Excess detergent falls back into the bottle through the full-depth diptube fitted to the closure.

Read how SIMPLEHUMAN won last year's IDSA award for its design system at info/idsa04

With a transparent side-strip formed in the parison stage of the molding process to indicate product depth, the bottle derives its functional/marketing advantages through rear-label copy. The detergent, which is biodegradable, contains no phosphates and is "cruelty free," is "3x concentrated," the bottle "3x smaller," and the job "3x easier," the copy declares.

Noting that the filled bottle weighs only 2 lb and stores efficiently in space-constrained households, Method founder and vp of product development Adam Lowry cites the product's market penetration since its introduction last year. "It exceeds that of many major mass-market brands that have been on the market for decades," he notes, "and has been achieved where deeply entrenched, multinational players fortress the market from newcomers."

Sales of the brand, he reports, "added more than twenty percent to the company's 2004 revenue growth." And the new dispensing closure now tops the differently configured 32-oz bottle of laundry fabric softener sold under the Method tradename.

More information is available:

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