Desert Island Packs: the packaging you can't live without

* 3 min read

Ever wondered what you’d take with you if you were cast away to a desert island? In the style of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, we ask Gillian Garside-Wight, our packaging technology director, for her must-have Desert Island Packs.

Heinz Tomato Ketchup glass bottle

Top of my list is Heinz Tomato Ketchup, which is unrivalled as a piece of packaging. It’s my earliest memory of physical packaging; it was on every dinner table when I was a child. The glass bottle is a truly iconic design that, through its very nature, has hinged on interaction. Hitting the bottom of the bottle to get the sauce out has become a ritual for all of us. There’s even an element of exciting, controlled risk to it. Who knows whether you’ll get a small drop or a big dollop?

As a result of this interactivity, the glass bottle design has become a distinctive part of the way Heinz Ketchup has been marketed. Although glass bottles aren’t the most practical solution, they occupy the same shelves as far more practical (but nowhere near as iconic) plastic upside-down squeezy bottles. Heinz Tomato Ketchup has had a lasting influence on the way we interact with packaging. The glass bottle has evolved beyond a vessel to transport and protect the product; it’s now something we have a genuine emotional connection with.

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Isklar water

This packaging design really stands out to me because it’s totally connected with the product it contains. The water itself comes from Norway’s Folgefonna Glacier, which is reflected in the bottle’s natural, organic shape. It’s truly borne from nature and beautifully emulates glacial ice patterns with its design. What’s more, the bottle is completely in contrast with all other competitors, making for an excellent example of positive disruption on-shelf.

It proves designers can learn from nature and use form as much as graphics to craft a brand identity. But this idea is nothing new – take the distinctive lines and curvature of the Coca-Cola bottle. Coke has evolved over the years, but its unusual contoured shape has remained consistent. Isklar’s bottle, with its multifaceted surface, has a similar effect – you’d recognise it anywhere. It’s even more impressive that the design came to market when it did, around 2008, when the packaging industry was all about cost reduction. It was a very welcome change. I loved the bottle when it launched, and eight years on, I still do.

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Tiffany packaging

I was given a Tiffany necklace many years ago and I still have the box and ribbon to this day. When you find yourself holding onto packaging you know you’re onto something special. I’d always appreciated the packaging from afar but receiving it as a gift was an entirely different experience.

Tiffany is unmistakeable in terms of form, colour and quality of packaging in every detail. The branding is small and subtle, sometimes hidden by the ribbon, but it’s unmistakeably one of a kindIts timeless beauty in the form of packaging that complements the product inside. As a gift, it builds a sense of anticipation that you really can’t match. What better unpackaging experience?

This concept of layers slowly revealing the product beneath has since been adopted by many well-known brands. You can even see it in Apple’s distinctive iPhone packaging. By making the packaging a part of the product, which consumers genuinely appreciate, it becomes the ultimate gift.

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