In 2015 b.packaging won the Carton of the Year Award for its elegant, smart packaging for the ambuja cosmetics range. To find out more about this small Austrian design studio we contacted one of its founders, Herwig Bischof.
The packaging for ambuja, a natural skincare collection from Legart Forschungsatelier, was the big winner at the 2015 ProCarton ECMA Awards when it was chosen as Carton of the Year. The winning designers are two 35-year-old Austrian designer autodidacts, Herwig Bischof and Johannes Gautier.
Bischof began his career processing paperboard for the wholesaler Europapier in Austria before moving to the UK to improve his English. However he was soon drawn back both to the Alps and to paperboard.
In a 300-year-old building that formerly housed a watchmaker, b.packaging works to create progressive packaging designs for clients from all around the world.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a designer?
“It was always one of my biggest passions to design things. I used Lego…Fisher Price… but most importantly we spent lots of time outside experimenting with nature.”
What’s the best thing about being based in Thüringen, Austria?
“The best things about Thüringen are the nature and my family, in which I find lots of strength and inspiration. Vorarlberg lies at the heart of Europe close to Zurich, Munich and Milan.”
What was your vision when first starting out?
“Great clients, great projects.”
You established the company in May 2007. What has been your greatest achievement so far?
“Over the past couple of years we were very lucky to realise many different and challenging projects. I wouldn’t call any one project the most successful, as every project in itself is special and something unique.”
What is your number one source of inspiration?
“Moments of inner calm and contentment.”
What is it about packaging design that keeps fascinating you?
“The different approaches to handle with graphics, form and function.”
What does a normal workday look like?
“Since most of our clients come from abroad I spend a lot of time on the phone. Apart from that I do drafting, reviewing and sketching.”
b.packaging consists of yourself and Johannes Gautier. Who does what more specifically?
“Johannes is a wonderful designer with exceptional skills. We complement each other perfectly. His focus lies on conception and design whereas mine is on function and technique.”
You create packaging for premium products in cosmetics, fashion, food and so on. Do you have a favourite segment?
“No, but it’s very important to be positive about the quality of the product and the idea and values of the client.”
What makes paperboard such a great material for packaging?
“Paperboard is a cultural medium. It is organic, easy to shape and process, and cost-efficient.”
What defines a good paperboard?
The ambuja packaging is made of Invercote G 200 g/m2 from Iggesund Paperboard. Why do you keep returning to Invercote?
“There is a short and simple answer to that question: the quality!”
Of the various Invercote versions, which one do you prefer and why?
“Invercote G – the two distinct surfaces give you manifold possibilities.”
How long did the ambuja project take from when you first got the brief from Legart Forschungsatelier until the product was in the stores?
“Including some interruptions from the client’s side we worked for about one year on it. The biggest challenge was to work with no restrictions. The only restriction was to make sure that the production process was cost efficient.”
Why do you think it won the Carton of the Year Award?
“Because the packaging is unique in its appearance, form and function.”
What was your immediate reaction to winning?
“The recognition of our performance and efforts makes us proud and confirms that it’s worth going in new directions. We’re curious to see how the award will affect our future business.”
TEXT: JOHAN LINDBERG PHOTO: CHRISTIAN GRASS