High-tech makeup

Technology has changed the way packaging designers think, and those working in the beauty industry are not immune to these developments. We spoke to the chief creative officer of Stila and Jane Cosmetics, Jill Tomandl, to learn more.

Choosing a mascara used to be easy. There were only two options – the humble cake variety or the classic wand-in-a-tube model. The new era beauty shopper, in contrast, has endless varieties at her dis­­posal – long separated lashes can be achieved with bristles of a certain shape, while the effect of a full and dramatic appearance calls for a wand in a different guise altogether. For extra assistance, a brush that rotates with the help of a battery-powered button might come in handy.

The rise of inventions that facilitate ease of application has brought about a new challenge, and companies are under constant pres­sure to launch the next user-friendly creation.

“Tailor-made solutions are key today, and advanced product engineering is becoming ever more crucial in the beauty sphere, along with design that differentiates one product from the next in the saturated market,” says Jill Tomandl, chief creative officer of Stila and Jane Cosmetics.

The rapid progress of technology has also affected makeup formulations, which in turn demand new types of packaging materials. Some of the latest long-lasting formulas, for instance, can be so aggressive that they might crack some of the plastics used in the past.

“The compatibility of product and packaging has to be constantly evaluated, and the development has to follow the pace with which formulations move ahead,” Tomandl says. Her background in industrial packaging design and engineering helps her in the quest to find practical solutions to balance the inno­vative aesthetic for which she is known.

Tomandl cites the rise of forward-thinking technologies as the most significant change to have taken place since she joined the American cosmetics company in 2001. But she stresses that aesthetics still remains a very important part of beauty packaging, noting that the period of clean design has given way to a more decorative approach.

 

 

“The look of the product needs to inspire beauty editors, while it also has to be enticing enough for consumers to want to show it off in public,” she says. “And in that sense, a powder compact or a lipstick is almost perceived as an accessory in its own right.”

The Los Angeles-based designer is known as something of a trendsetter in the industry, and her sensibility centres on an uninhibited use of materials spanning suede, mother of pearl, tweed, feathers and grosgrain. Despite her experimental leanings, she also rates classic paperboard highly. “You can always create newness with paperboard,” she says.

“A number of printing techniques can be used. In the past we’ve created finishes to mimic leather and linen, while flocking and embossing are two other worthwhile methods. Paperboard finishing techniques keep evolving, and there is no need to purchase expensive tools to create a unique construction,” she observes.

Tomandl also notes that paper is ideal for creating interesting compact shapes or windows inserted to showcase eye shadow or cheek colour shades, which is one of the most important aspects of beauty packaging as it allows for instant product shade visibility.

Since makeup is a relatively affordable luxury, it can inspire impulse buys to a greater extent than most categories. Hence, design can boost the sales figures considerably. Tomandl remembers a Stila concept that sold well almost exclusively on its visual merits.

“We decided to launch a holiday blockbuster palette with a range of different eye shadow colours, but it had to be unique,” she says. “I approached the task by placing colours that work in harmony next to each other, so the consumer could easily understand which shades to use together to create a look. The shape of the product wells were arranged in style of a flower, and the actual shades created the illusion of a colour wheel.”

Customers were drawn to the look of the packaging, sometimes buying it in bulk as it made for a striking gift. Many returned to buy more since they found the educational aspect of the compact useful – but the design has to be given credit for catching the consumer’s eye in the first place.

TEXT: EMMA HOLMQVIST PHOTO: KEVIN HEES

Jill Tomandl has worked as a designer, developer and engineer since 2001.

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