Thinking Outside the Bottle
Somebody recently shared with me an article from Fast Company magazine about a winery that’s replaced their traditional glass bottles with more forward-thinking recyclable carton packages. The resultant environmental affect claims to produce a carbon footprint ten times smaller than traditional glass bottles once the savings for weight, shipping, and disposal are all tallied in (the cartons can be placed in ordinary recycle bins). Additionally, the new solution offers 33% more wine, making it the smart choice for the ever-demanding train-hitching vagrant segment.
If I were to peg the purpose of this concept on my design chart, I’d say it fits squarely in between desire and utility. In hindsight, these relationships do seem to flow into one another without much conflict. Then again, I’m beginning to think that desire is the herald for all other design purposes, so maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise. The greatest undrelying tension I can see, and the one that I would venture to say can significantly affect adoption on a wide scale, seems to be a matter of well-known convention. The practice of using glass cylinders to hold wine spans throughout time for, oh… a millennium. So why the packaging doesn’t incorporate more natural “winey” gold and red colors or nudge to the time-honored affordance factor of a more crafted container is beyond me. It’s possible this was a conscious design decision borne out of feedback from customers or the product of some other synthetic analysis of environmental factors. At first blush (pardon the pun), it really does read more like a carton of O.J. then a fine French wine.
Regardless of my two-cent visceral reaction to a couple of screenshots for a product I’ve never used, volumes of discussion could yet be had concerning the practical long-term benefits of re-thinking wasteful, yet culturally entrenched design conventions like the glass bottle. The part design will play in revealing these shortcomings, and in conjuring entirely new solutions, will surely be significant.