International Tea Set | Product
A research, design, and product challenge all rolled into one. Created and produced for a product design class final project.
Role – Creator
Date – 10/2018 - 12/2018
Biggest Challenge – manufacturing and assembly
Biggest Takeaway – how visual design and a product’s values and goals walk hand in hand
This project started with an in-depth analysis of 4 premium tea brands in the market. Each company offers highly gift-able luxury tea, but each does so in its own unique way, angling their visual branding in a direction that matches the company’s goals. For example, David’s Tea goes for fun and funky flavors while Kusmi Tea constantly boasts its tea house’s rich history.
Through researching these companies and the tea product itself, I arrived at a prompt for my own project.
A Universal Good
Across all languages around the world, there are only two pronunciations for tea: some variation of tee and some variation of cha. This factoid was the launchpad for my own spin on a premium gift-able teas: tea is an undeniably universal good. And yet, its also incredibly geographically unique. Each region has its own ways of drinking tea, its own tea strains and tea cultures.
I decided to tackle 3 countries first, and research their most iconic tea strains: South African Rooibos Tea, Moroccan Mint Tea, and Japanese Matcha Tea.
Each package needs to tell a story of that region and its culture, so I began by developing artboards for each, pulling images that came off the top of my head. I used the inspiration to design each cover.
My challenge then moved on to designing a set. I wanted each individual package to stand on its own, but also look comprehensively appealing next to each other.
I developed a matrix of balance in my designs by ensuring:
-each cover had colors unique to itself, but also colors shared across the three
-each cover should have the same balance of white space, colors, and textures. This didn’t necessarily translate to exact surface area. For example, in the South African Rooibos design, the pattern texture takes up much less surface area than in the Moroccan Mint design, but the balance feels the same since the South African pattern is a lot more high contrast.
I then moved on to designing the larger package, one that would house all three individual sets. I wanted this cover to hint at what was underneath so I reused the iconic colors of each and shapes that were similar to the geometry on the designs of the individual sets.
Information & Research
Of course a large part of packaging design is also conveying the right information. For this project, I needed to communicate the story behind each tea, thus each individual set came with:
-a card of information inside that has information about the specific tea you’re about to drink: sourcing, prep, and nutrition info.
-a backside with information on tea history and culture in the region as well as a fun fact on how to pronounce tea in the language.
Layout & Prototyping
The next step was to print and produce the packages, and here’s where the math got tricky. I wanted to challenge myself to produce self-stabilizing packages that didn’t require too much hand assemblage, as this is how real manufacturing works.
After many failed prototypes and test runs, I finally arrived at a flat shape that worked:
-Tabs that fold into each other, allowing for self-stabilization without the use of adhesives
-Double fold method on each side to reinforce strength and shape
The Final Product was printed on a matte heavy cardstock. It looks and feels luxurious and the flat layouts were calculated to fit perfectly together, ensuring the product felt professionally manufactured.
Through this project, I learned a ton about product design: how to create something that tells the right story that complements your good. Most product markets are well-saturated with competitors so designing the correct packaging and visual branding is what really sets each apart from the other.