In my previous post, I talked broadly about the Kickstarter 2 packaging. Now it’s time to dig in a little deeper, the horse has bolted and there are plenty of unboxing pictures already in the wild.
Initially we had been looking at improvements to the upper cardboard platform which involved the creation of box sections which would add natural reenforcement, preventing damage from occurring due to the Next moving or the weight of the manual attempting to move it. It also removed the sharp edges of the card which butted up against the Next itself. We had some prototypes of this made.
Still, our China manufacturer had some ideas and the subject of foam raised its head again. Something that we had explored for the first Kickstarter, but even the most basic and cheapest foam was too expensive for our budget as we were creating the package through a UK company.
The Kickstarter 1 box had a void between the top of the Next and the foam that was attached to the lid and this allowed for too much vertical movement of the Next in transit. One of the first things decided was to reduce the overall height of the box to close this air gap. Additionally the Kickstarter 1 box had a lid which did not fully extend to the extents of the bottom of the tray section, this was done purely for aesthetic reasons. Kickstarter 2 would have a reduced height (by 10mm), and the lid would extend fully to cover all of the tray.
Back to the foam. The first mock up was focused on overall protection of the Next but lacked that aesthetically pleasing quality. It was too busy and random in terms of the top section, with different adapters of different shapes requiring different cutouts. There was no symmetry and the foam itself, whilst functional did not embue the opening experience with any kind of wow factor. It was a start though.
With this sample in mind, we wanted to get a more polished look. The original Kickstarter 1 box was nicely minimal, we just needed a foam solution that would produce the same visual effect, but also protect the contents. We needed to get back to some kind of accessories box, in order to hide the inherent uglyness of all these adapters.
Don’t we have an industrial designer who is currently twiddling his thumbs? Well in Next terms yes, but of course he has other jobs outside of our world of Next. Cue a quick chat with Phil Candy, and the receipt of a sketch.
After the sketch, Phil moved into the CAD stage.
Bearing in mind here that Phil was not working to preciseness, but more obtaining a particular look which would then need to be evaluated in the real world with the real objects and materials. This is not industrial design, it is purely a desired aesthetic.
Taking into account the physical requirements for the box internals, the dimensions of each component and potential clashing, the first sample was hand cut. Whilst it offered much more potential in the visual stakes, the lack of an edge at the top threw the design off and also reduced overall rigidity of the package as a whole. The accessories box would butt up against the cardboard tray but we needed space at the bottom of the package so that the ring binding of the manual would not meet the plastic underneath of the Next case.
A bit of faffing around with cutouts and accessories box dimensions and we arrive at a solution which provides a bottom and top protective foam edge. Much better however what to do about the foam itself?
As I mentioned in a previous post, different types of foam offer different qualities. Compression, resilience, but also differing degrees of eye candy which this graphic demonstrates.
Starting with the baseline foam established in the earlier prototype, we experimented with mixing and matching different types of foam in order to stop costs from running away.
The idea was that when the manual, Next and accessories box are in place, the overall look would be good. Note that this is still using the old design with no foam protection at the top. The problem is evident when those elements are removed, and you’re left with a fairly ugly and textured cheap quality foam. It ruins the experience.
So it looks better, it costs more, but we only pushed slightly above the packaging costs of the first Kickstarter. Worth it though wouldn’t you agree? I dare a single Next to be damaged in transport.
It is almost complete, all that is needed now is a small cutout for the protruding VGA port, and some artistic flourishes on the accessories box itself to bring it into the design. Obviously it needs to be black, but how about a UV layer with some text on it?
Of course the artwork was another story and I have touched upon this previously. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Alfredo Tato in painstakingly fixing the CAD asset, and rendering it beautifully for the box. In taking on board who knows how many revisions without once complaining, and for his keen design eye which kept everything beautiful and in balance. And to Richard Hallas who really kept me honest with his passion for getting the wordings on the box exactly right.
What about the box to hold the box? Well in the first Kickstarter, money was so tight that we could not even afford shrink wrap to keep the lid and tray together, nor could we afford bubble wrap, to keep the nice fancy Next boxes safe in their plain brown outer. They moved around inside and this was not ideal…
For the second Kickstarter, we asked our manufacturer to advise on better (still affordable) solutions for this.
And now, a random gallery of images.