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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
2023 Design Trends:
Balancing the Beautiful with the Responsible

The balance between luxury and sustainability has set a new bar for luxury packaging, making us all stop and think about how we can do things differently.

The luxury industry is often characterized by high price points, excessive consumerism and guilty pleasures; but in a post-COVID world, luxury has changed. Sustainability is now one of the leading concerns amongst shoppers with younger, affluent audiences seeking brands that align with their ethics and values. Here are the trends shaping the luxury goods industry in 2023:

1. Balancing luxury and sustainability

One of the most exciting trends we’re seeing is the reappraisal of what luxury means and the move towards sustainable luxury packaging that delivers to the expectation and the experience needed for a premium product. A great example is Sektkellerei OHLIG, a German family winery which, in collaboration with creative agency Ruska Martín Associates, developed a whole new beverage experience called RE:INCARNATED SPIRITS — a 100 percent circular spirit and packaging design. With a focus on demonstrating a new circular approach to spirit making, selecting 100 percent recycled packaging was a must. The label is adhered to the bottle using Avery Dennison's Fasson® rCrush Grape FSC® — an uncoated, self-adhesive paper made from 15 percent grape waste, 40 percent recycled pulp, and 45 percent virgin fibers. The bottles are made from 100 percent recycled post-consumer glass developed by Estal. Topping them off are corks made exclusively from recycled sparkling wine corks. Lastly, the bottles come packaged in uncoated cardboard boxes that are perfect for transporting and feature recycled padding made from shredded Euro banknotes that did not meet quality criteria for public use. This balance between luxury and sustainability sets a new bar for luxury packaging, making us all stop and think about how we can do things differently.

2. Increased transparency

2023 will see an increase in greenwashing claims and fines, which will increase consumer skepticism that brands are exaggerating their environmental claims. To help navigate this trend, we will see more premium brands look to substantiate their positioning through certification and transparency efforts. Digital identification solutions such as near-field communication (NFC) labels help brands to communicate their ethical credentials, offering customers an interactive experience with a brand via their smartphone. This will create exciting opportunities for high-end brands to get closer to their customers with engaging packaging that builds trust and allows for interaction.

3. Sustainable materials

There is much debate about which materials are the most environmentally friendly. We are seeing many high-end brands adopt materials that can be reused and recycled; some are experimenting with compostable and bio-based materials — there is no one-size-fits-all approach. For an attainable approach to sustainable packaging, brands and converters need access to a diverse range of label solutions. Avery Dennison has invested in recycled materials with a broad range of structure, thickness and pattern complexity to ensure companies can find a sustainable label solution that fits their product positioning. For example, Our Sustainable ADvantage range includes papers made with 100 percent recycled fibers suited for wine, spirits, craft beer, premium food and beverage, and cosmetics. Coming soon is a product I am very excited to bring to market: Fasson® rPaper Black FSC® is an uncoated paper made from 100 percent recycled fibers. Its intense black color is pulp-added to avoid the unpleasant white edge and backside of the label. It has a matte, smooth texture and features wet strength and fungicidal treatment for labels that must resist humid environments.

4. Values-first design

Brands are now expected to address important social issues that shape today's society; and we’ve seen brands start to weave those stories and principles into their branding — including their packaging and labels. For example, Avery Dennison and design agency Supperstudio won several prestigious Pentawards for a project called “Build Your Brand“ — showcasing eight designs that address specific social and conservation challenges. For example, the “Only for your eyes” design — developed exclusively in Braille for a cold brew coffee drink — received the prestigious cover of the Pentawards catalogue last year. Printed on paper made of 100 percent recycled pulp, the label is embossed, hot-foil stamped, and silkscreen varnished to include braille, making the label accessible to people with visual impairment or low vision — a beautiful and necessary dedication to the visually impaired community, which is often overlooked by brands.

Make a Mark, our annual design collaboration platform in partnership with ESTAL and KURZ, aims to accelerate innovation and sustainable solutions in luxury packaging design. Many of the design concepts tackle environmental and social issues such as climate change, water scarcity, and diversity and inclusion. For example, Butterfly Cannon created a design concept in 2021 that won a 2022 Pentaward. The design follows its Conscious Design™ process, which turns wasteful into usable and beautiful. Papil is a premium wellness aperitif — alcohol-free and created from an uplifting blend of natural adaptogens and nootropics to enhance a positive mood at the start of the evening. It features a reusable design made from 100 percent recycled wild glass and waste by-products, while the bespoke Labrenta Sughera cap is molded from 100 percent recycled cork dust taken out of the waste stream. The label uses an Avery Dennison Fasson® MarbleBase stock, made up of 80 percent calcium carbonate. Strong and durable, it was specifically designed for the bottle to be washed and reused.

Traditionally, designers focused their attention on improving the look and functionality of products; but in 2023 we will see some designers broaden their approach to deliver a more meaningful message and social statements through product design.

5. Minimal aesthetics

There are notable differences in design trends across the world. Typically, we see northern regions be more minimalistic while southern countries lean towards more descriptive, embellished designs. However, in light of all the trends mentioned above, we will start to see more brands take advantage of subtle branding and minimalistic packaging design. The impact of materials on the environment will take center stage as luxury brands build circular principles including using more recyclable materials (and less extracted materials) and designing waste out of their product design briefs. If done correctly, minimal packaging can strike a great balance between environmental concerns and the need for refinement and elegance that premium brands desire.

One thing is certain: Luxury brands are role models in their industry — setting trends that designers follow globally. If the luxury industry makes sustainability its top priority — balancing the beautiful with the responsible — then many will follow, which is exciting for our industry and our future.