This month Iggesund Paperboard presents the third stage of its challenge to designers – the Black Box Project. The company asked several leading designers to use its Invercote paperboard to fill a predefined black box with contents that place stringent demands on the material. Ada Brunazzi of Brunazzi&Associati in Turin, Italy accepted the challenge and Iggesund will present her black box at an event in London in late March.


"We felt that ‘Think inside the box’ would be a provocative theme because most designers strive to add a different perspective than that of their client," explains Carlo Einarsson, Director Market Communications at Iggesund Paperboard and the initiator of this designer relay race. "So far we’ve seen an impressive display of creativity – proving that limitations in terms of physical format place absolutely no limits on designers’ freedom of thought." 


The first designers to accept the challenge were the packaging specialists in cosmetics and fragrances at Landor in Paris and the printing artiste Frans van Heertum of Tilburg in the Netherlands. The free spirits at Landor did what designers so often do – broke all the rules for the commission right from the start. Their contribution is called "Virtually Real" and is based on the concept that everything we produce can be broken down into pixels. So they thought: why not produce a pixel that people can use to build something with? The result was a Black Box containing a single pixel. The box didn’t create much excitement until it became clear that the creative minds at Landor had not just thought outside the box – they’d also blown it to smithereens.


In addition to the box, Landor’s contribution consisted of four works of art, each made up of 4,900 physical pixels, resulting in four pictures, each 3 x 3 metres in size.


"It wasn’t really what we’d expected but who cares when it turned out so well," Einarsson says. "The key idea behind breaking out of the specified framework is of course about exceeding the client’s expectations. Landor did just that – in spades." 


In contrast to Landor’s concept-driven contribution, that of van Heertum Design is clearly technology driven. The company’s grand old man Frans van Heertum is all but legendary in the graphics industry for pushing the boundaries of what is possible. He happily combines gravure, offset and screen printing and then adds 34 printing inks and a multitude of varnishes. As if that weren’t enough, he also likes to integrate Swarovski crystals into his design. He is a multiple winner of the Golden Cylinder honorary award from the American Gravure Printing Association.


"When Frans van Heertum wants to do something special, we know it won’t just be challenging, it will be extremely challenging," Einarsson says.


Opening van Heertum’s black box reveals a highly intricate laser cut construction made from a single sheet of paperboard. The box also contains a number of cards that display a variety of various printing and finishing techniques – ones that most printers and designers can only dream of achieving.


"No one will ever use all of these techniques in a single production," Einarsson says. "But what Frans has done is to demonstrate different techniques which we can all use when we want to give a brochure or package that extra touch to catch the consumer’s eye. His black box is essentially a stand-alone training course in what designers can do to achieve maximum attention."


Ada Brunazzi’s contribution to the Black Box Project will be presented in London on 22 March. The next contribution, from Marc Benhamou, will be presented in New York on 16 May.


Find out more and access videos about the Black Box Project.




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