Every February I receive an all staff work email titled, “Packaging Clients Needed!” I work at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The email is sent out from the Design & Packaging Technology’s Introduction to Packaging Design class, which focuses on cardboard and paperboard packaging of products. The teacher, Pete Rivard, asks Dunwoody staff to be “clients” and for each to bring in an item for which a student can design and manufacture a package that would market the item. I presented to the class that I wanted a box of some sort to carry the DPLA swag (stickers, pins and pens) to the different places I intended to be presenting about the DPLA. None of the students had heard of the DPLA, so I spent time talking about the DPLA mission and what the site offers. I said that I wanted to be able to walk into a training, DPLA caddy in hand, ready for action. I wanted something that would catch people’s eye enough for them to ask about it, dig into it and walk away with a DPLA sticker or any of the other swag. After I presented, I had so many students ask to be my client that I had to set up interviews. It was tough to choose one person, but the student I chose, Jenna Mae Weiler, came to me with several ideas that I thought were promising.
Jenna and I set up our first appointment to discuss options. She came with three different detailed drawings. One was of a small, portable card catalog. The card catalog had drawers to store the different swag. Then there was a book that opened with compartments to hold different items. The last was a simple, modern looking box that opened to have a banner with the DPLA website logo and drawers beneath it that people could open to get the pens, stickers and pins. Once folded down, handles could be secured to easily carry the box (soon to be called DPLA caddy) around.
Our following meetings revolved around print and color. Kenny Whitebloom, my staff contact at DPLA, was happy to provide the DPLA logo and to hear about our project. I didn’t want Jenna or I to misrepresent DPLA, because I really did want to carry it with me to DPLA talks and trainings. Jenna was able to match the colors of the DPLA website and the font. We both agreed how much we liked the aesthetic of the site, remarking on the simplicity and clean lines of the design. We wanted to remain in that mindset. Another goal we set was that if any other DPLA Community Reps liked it, could Jenna make a design that could be shipped flat to community reps, and with instructions, they could put it together themselves.
Well, Jenna set to work and she probably thought I was just a dotting grandmother, because I didn’t have a single criticism at any stage of the process. I truly thought her design work was fantastic. I just kept saying, “I love it!”
Jenna designed the structure of the caddy in Esko’s ArtiosCAD and did the design work in Adobe’s Illustrator software, printed the box on an inkjet printer and cut the box out on our in house CAD table cutter. We presented the final product to her classmates and the other clients about our process. Jenna gave the details through a PowerPoint presentation and I just kept saying, “I love it.”
Kenny contacted me recently asking how my community rep work has been going, and I told him about the caddy and sent photos. He too thought it was great. So I asked if we could send one caddy assembled and one flat with assembly directions. It is rounding out the project in a great way, because now we are working with a second student who has graduated from the program, and is working in the packaging industry, and Jenna’s instructors to work on the full package which includes sending out the caddy to community reps with instructions to assemble it. The whole process has been a fun experience that has gotten the word out about DPLA in a very different way, but has also felt like a connection and relationship to DPLA through building something that is a small extension of it.
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