What does the future of unboxing look like for tech brands?

It’s time for unending layers of plastic to be designed out, says Here’s Mark Paton, who believes tech and electronics brands are missing a huge opportunity on the packaging front

“There’s this culture of the theatre, and the drama, and the fun and excitement of getting something new, and I can relate to all of that,” says Here creative partner Mark Paton. We’re talking about his children’s love of watching unboxing videos, but the sentiment could just as easily apply to the rest of us.

Anyone that’s had the experience of receiving their first smartphone, or first tablet, or any big electronics purchase really, will know that the unwrapping is a major part of the fun. Apple, in particular, has made much of this – the brand was named a Winner in the CR Annual Awards as early as 2006 for its lime green, super-minimal iPod Shuffle accessories packaging – and this enduring attention to detail over the decades has doubtless played a role in helping its products become iconic.

However the idea of lavish, many-layered packaging is quickly becoming an anachronism. It might be fun to open, but ever-more urgent conversations around sustainability add a new dimension of guilt. “There’s a kind of conspicuous consumption to that, that’s not maybe as sustainable a way of thinking about packaging,” points out Paton. It’s easy to see how electrical goods arriving swathed in masses of cardboard, lumps of polystyrene, and bits of vacuum-formed plastic are in need of a rethink. And for Paton, there’s a huge opportunity for designers to reimagine how tech and electrical goods brands think of packaging.