I know I’m not the only one who gets frustrated with packaging design – not being able to get at the contents of a packet without using some sort of tool … when cooking a meal, for example, and everything is already simmering but it takes five minutes to add that final ingredient because it’s a new packet and you can’t get into it.
My least favourite packaging is the rigid, see-through plastic that is moulded around the item, requiring strong scissors to cut around it whilst creating nasty sharp edges. I once queued behind a customer in a hardware shop, who wanted to return a yale lock because it didn’t fit his door. When the assistant refused on the basis that goods could only be returned with packaging in tact, he pointed out that it was impossible to tell if it was the correct lock without taking it from the packaging, which was impossible to do without destroying it.
Packaging is designed with good intentions but do the drawbacks sometimes outweigh the benefits?
The Push and Turn top is sometimes used to make medication ‘child proof’, but if the medication is used regularly it can end up on a mantelpiece with the lid resting loosely on top, defeating the object. It is also used on some bleaches and cleaning fluids but sometimes the bottle is so flimsy that it starts to cave in when the top is pushed down.
Some containers simply don’t want to part with their contents, giving you the option of either throwing half of it away or else cutting the container to get to what’s left inside when it will no longer dispense. Being a bit fussy about smells, I tend to go for unscented moisturiser, and decided to give this a try:
No complaints about the product, but the bottle is so strong and rigid that after a couple of uses, squeezing with one hand to squirt some into the other hand is fruitless. The container stays in the squeezed position and has to be manipulated from the sides to get it back into a shape that is ready for action again. Storing it in an upside down position helps but owing to the rounded top it has to be barricaded into a corner, propped up by other items, and comes crashing down if anything is moved. So what is the purpose of this design? The only advantage I can think of is that it has no scratchy edges that could hurt if the baby got hold of it.
Where I work, we have had new toilet roll dispensers fitted. (There are plenty of other areas that need improving but for some reason this took priority). Without being too poetic, it looks like a pair of breasts with milk flowing from them. Here it is on a good day, with both nipples producing:
The obvious benefit of this design is that the paper is kept clean and dry and untouched by anyone except the person about to use it. The down side is that the paper comes out like a piece of string and has to be straightened out before use. Worse still, it has to be pulled very gently as it tends to break off, usually with the perforations just within the nipple, so you end up with this:
The photo above illustrates a particularly dodgy situation in which it’s advisable to milk as much paper as you might possibly need before starting anything, otherwise that one sheet on display might be all you’re gonna get! This of course leads to waste, as it’s difficult to gauge precisely how much paper will be required, and better to err on the safe side.
On a bad day, you can see the paper but there’s no way of getting to it – but at least you know where you stand (or sit) with this:
Moving on, I think the key holder must have been on holiday on this occasion (you need a key to open the dispenser) because what happened next brightened up an otherwise mundane day:
Yes, I know, ‘little things please little minds’ … but I don’t think anyone had any issues with the previous loo roll holders (not that I went around asking). If there was some on the roll, you knew it was there for real and not just to tantilise, even if sometimes it meant inserting your hand up inside it to coax and jiggle it down. I’ve no idea why it had to be reinvented … maybe sometimes change is just for the sake of change.