I was privileged to be a packaging designer for Pier 1 Imports, a fun and beloved retailer, for 6 years. Pier 1 Imports is a 60+-year-old international housewares and decor retailer.
All of their products are designed and packaged in-house. Here where the primary focuses.
Keep the products safe from breakage
Save on import cost (ship as little air as possible)
Easy for customers to understand the product features and benefits in store
Help prevent “shrinkage” (theft)
Create templates for production designers and vendors each season
Stay on trend and keep things fresh
Show the product value
Achieve sales and new customer metrics each quarter and adjust product or packaging
Since almost all designs are in-house the challenge of keeping up with retail trends and staying innovative. Almost all of the packaging has to accommodate both English and French Canadian languages. Keeping in mind the two languages spacing becomes an issue for product names. Production designers also needed to work with multiple SKUs as quickly as possible. Seasonal and collection style guides I created needed to be made easy to use, resize, and alter. Style guides also shared with vendors worldwide so the instructions on how to print and use the templates have to be clear and explained visually as well as in clear instructions.
Color palettes and specialty printing (foil, spot varnish, etc) and cheaper alternates if they do not have the printing capabilities
Sourcing material (ex: jute rope for tags or .5 inch red grosgrain ribbon for Christmas)
Design templates like tags in 2-3 standard sizes, boxes, header cards, labels, etc.
Placement instructions on common items with illustrations or photo examples
Tying instructions (as needed)
Price label placement instructions
Clean layers in the design file for easy alterations
To keep the seasonal styles fresh I sat on the Christmas committee, a team of buyers, VP’s, and more to help set the overall trends for the following year. I would travel to surface art shows for inspiration and to buy art for the products and this was sometimes used on the packaging. I helped create new custom illustrations to fulfill specific needs and save the overall budget. The packaging team collaborated closely with the buyers on their product often helping develop products and package concurrently. When new dielines were needed I would work closely with vendors and printers to ensure the packaging was tested and to the level of quality the customers expected of the brand. I worked with photographers, set designers, and food stylist as needed for product shots for packaging and the website. I partnered with visual merchandisers to ensure the packaging and the plan to display the product were in sync. Collaborated with writers to help paint an engaging story for the customer while interacting with the packaging. This was extremely important on fragranced items. Prior to full production all vendors sent print production samples for approval.
In packaging, every detail is purposeful and planned.