Five key trends from Luxe Pack Monaco
Being based in the South of France, it was a short hop for our Creative Director, Debrah Smith, to visit Luxe Pack Monaco last week. After diving into the creativity and innovation of Europe’s top luxury packaging conference, she shares her top five trends to watch.
This was definitely top of the agenda. Almost every exhibitor displayed their green credentials upfront, and any that didn’t seemed dated and perhaps even irrelevant. There was a lot of showcasing how renewable and recycled materials can be made to work in a luxury context. But most notable was the move to a more circular, rounded offer – not just sustainable materials, but an emphasis on sustainable practices and production, and an effort to lower carbon emissions from beginning to end.
The whole idea of reuse was a real theme – luxury packaging that can be kept and adapted by customers or refilled and used again, particularly in health and beauty. At Smith&+Village, we’re big fans of reusing packaging as a way of keeping a brand alive in the customer’s world, as we did for Harvey Nichols. As well as being more sustainable, it’s a real opportunity to create a deeper dialogue.
Obviously, going fully sustainable is tricky and expensive, but the packaging industry is wholeheartedly embracing sustainability in all its aspects with a more joined-up approach and highly creative solutions.
Pastel shades have been popping up in fashion and interiors for a while now, and it was fascinating to note them creeping into packaging. A few years ago, major fashion brands like Givenchy and Prada would have been all about black and white. Now they're using beautifully delicate off-white pastel shades with their black for a super fresh and modern look. Think ‘white with a hint of…’ from the 80s if you can remember that far back! The lightest powder blue or delicately tinted greens and pinks with bold, black typography. Pastels need an edge to look cool and avoid tweeness so need to be handled with a bold attitude. This was a low-lying theme, but it marks a significant break with conventional luxury codes and is one that is set to grow and become a really big colour trend.
A proliferation of perforation
Laser cutting and perforation were everywhere. These techniques bring textural interest and depth, giving exciting edges to boxes and bottles. Metal filigree adds luxurious detail and card layers show strong colours through laser-cut shapes. In short, they can create really innovative brand standout in all sorts of product packaging.
These techniques have huge potential. They allow you to play with light and shadow and negative and positive space. I’m particularly excited by how they could bring a whole new dimension to unboxing videos. As you go through the layers of a piece of packaging, you're revealing more and changing it. Perhaps you have an outer layer of intricately cut card or metal, and when you take that off, you’ve got a full colour container inside. I expect to see a lot of this trend filtering through the next few years, especially in gifting and premium products.
These are colours that trigger off a little dopamine hit in your brain and excited the senses. They’re bold and vibrant – acid pops of colour and deep, intense hues like Yves Klein blue. Christened dopamine colours after the enzyme they set off, they are making their way into physical packaging in a way that hasn’t been seen before. They are used to stain glass, paper, pulp and post-consumer waste plastics and create wonderful, very matt textures, often powder-coated for a super-tactile feel.
Super stimulating and involving, these dazzlers represent a shift further away from black and white as luxury codes and are clearly a new way to channel contemporary style. Also, from a branding point of view, they are can be much more ownable than more widely used colours. In my head, colours like these would look amazing paired with pale pastels and I can’t wait to get cracking and do something extraordinary with them very soon.
New natural and recycled materials
With the rise in sustainability there’s a new thirst for materials that can be recycled and reused. This meant wool and other natural fabrics like jute, hemp and denim, metals, wood, and cane. If that makes you a bit nervous, make no mistake that there wasn't a sniff of the hippie about how these materials are being used.
They exuded modern contemporary luxury that was exciting to see. Knitted coverings for boxes looked elegant rather than earnest, while wood and metal now trump plastic for high-end containers. Ribbons made from recycled denim and boxes created from used coffee cups channel desirability along with a super-strong sustainability message. Wood papers show rough textures that would have been unthinkable in luxury branding just a few years ago. But these are now set to be all the rage and, like the rest, are testament to a profound change in what luxury packaging will look like in future.