One of the areas where shifting trends are felt the most strongly is packaging design. The awards organization Pentawards has released its annual report on the packaging design trends for 2024, which includes some intriguing predictions as we get closer to the end of the first month of the year.
The report identifies a number of emerging styles in packaging design among the global entries to the annual Pentawards competition in 2023. These styles range from the dramatic use of shadows and layers to subtle details, moving parts, and rock textures (for more inspiration, see our forecast of typography trends in 2024).
We've selected five standout trends from the Pentawards survey, which also took into account the opinions of Nestlé, Diageo, and Disney jury members. The complete report, which you can get here, identifies additional trends.
01. Moving parts
Paper packaging is being used in more and more creative ways to "add value to the unboxing experience" and to deliver products and share important product information in a way that is better for the environment, according to the report.
Pentawards, for instance, features Stereoscope's coffee collection. Boxes designed by Olssn Barbieri's design studio were shaped like pyramids and resemble mountains, which represent the high altitudes at which Coffee Arabica is grown. The brand's "2-pack" subscription box has a prism-like shape that leans to make the most of space for shipping, and the boxes can be easily interlocked. The sustainability of a glue-free card system for labeling various coffee varieties is further enhanced.
02. Shadow play
In addition, examples of shadows and silhouettes being used to boldly convey themes, stories, and brand values were identified in the report. The Zoo wild ale packaging design by Quadraft Brewing makes use of rough animal silhouettes set against a black-and-white palette to create a novel visual system that reflects the product's personality.
03. Subtle details
The Pentawards jury noted that brands use subtle details in drinks packaging to evoke a character or narrative for their products. The Carmenero packaging of Ca' del Bosco was highlighted: Rivelazione wine asserts the identity of a wine that has long been confused with Cabernet Franc by utilizing the concept of a wolf disguised as a lamb. The lamb's "disguise" is represented by a blind embossed cloak with a stamped gold interior. When it is lifted, the wolf that was hidden underneath has a stamped gold eye set against the foliage of the forest.
04. Rock textures
In addition, there were a number of examples in the 2023 Pentawards entries of brands and studios incorporating rock and earth-like textures into the design of packaging. These textures add visual and tactile richness and convey a sense of natural origins. The lower half of the label on the Nan Madol vodka bottle by Estudio Maba gives the impression that the bottle is partially submerged, evoking the effect of water on rock. The top layer of blackened paper disappears when placed in an ice bucket, revealing symbols that tell the story of Nan Madol, an ancient city in Micronesia made up of artificial islands.
Last but not least, one of the trends that was identified is layering. According to Pentawards, layering serves as a metaphor for packaging and encourages customers to discover stories, histories, and messages. In three layers of historical artifacts, Clos du Val Bernard's Cuvée creates a collage using layers to explore the winery's journey and iconic moments.