Gordon Kaye: Our 2022 Package Design Awards

Gordon Kaye has been publisher of GDUSA (Graphic Design USA) for three decades. He is a graduate of Hamilton College, Princeton University, and Columbia Law School. This comment appeared in GDUSA’s April 2022 print and digital magazines. 

I have a recurring dream.

I am hosting a nationally televised ceremony handing out our 2022 Package Design Awards to couture-wearing winners. I make an innocuous joke – perhaps about the advantages of lithography over flexography or paperboard over plastic – and someone in the audience storms up and slaps me in the face. I suspect it is a thin-skinned lithographer but I can’t be sure as it all fades to black.

That I experience this particular dream repeatedly tells me two things. First, I am getting old as my nighttime reveries rarely used to involve print processes, unless there is some symbolism here that I am missing. Second, and more to the point, I believe deeply that our 2022 winners deserve the big spotlight for the exceptional artists, strategists and innovators that they are.

Indeed, they have earned our respect.

Our 59th anniversary package awards program is among the largest – and is certainly the most selective – we have organized. The outstanding work showcased here – 330+ pieces – celebrates beauty and style, of course, but even more important, the power of effective and inspired design to forge an emotional link with the buyer at the moment of truth.

This is all the more significant as it comes against the backdrop of an anticipated boom in the packaging industry – some experts estimate compound annual growth of up to 9% per year through the end of the decade – a forecast that far exceeds most other forms of communication.

Growth is good news. Even better news is that, to a considerable extent, this is a graphic design story.

Makers, marketers and sellers are challenged as never before to make a connection and sell their products. Think distraction, fragmentation, information overload, media clutter, global competition, economic dislocation, and retail disruption. Designers are uniquely equipped to create aesthetic and strategic packaging solutions that can be – and increasingly are – the difference makers in communicating the message, differentiating the product, advancing the brand, making the sale. Effective design is at the heart of the solution.

Moreover, designers are also prepared to benefit from – and even shape – several related trends generating additional tailwinds for the industry: the growing interest in customization and personalization; the increased emphasis on sustainability and sustainable materials; the demand for transparency in packaging and labeling; the challenge of creating impact online as well as on-shelf; the rise of private label branding; and the integration of advanced technologies that enhance information, assure authenticity and promote efficiency. All in your wheelhouse.

I hope you enjoy our showcase today. And dream peacefully tonight of sweet package design opportunities.