The 2018 Platinum winner interview - Deng Xiong Bo

Back The 2018 Platinum winner interview - Deng Xiong Bo

How do you feel about being a Pentaward Platinum winner? Why do you want to participate in the award?

I remember that I was giving a pitch to my client at the time. It was very late in China and I was a bit tired after working on the proposal. However, the call from Pentawards arrived, and I was told that I had won the 2018 Pentawards Platinum Award. I almost shouted and suddenly felt energised. When I returned to the conference room, I told my client in a very firm tone that my proposal can be assured, because we had just become a platinum award-winning company. A sense of excitement and confidence ran through my body.

The reason why I participated in Pentawards was that the quality of Pentawards high-quality work also made me feel electric. At that time, some companies in the industry started to win a Pentaward, which also inspired me to be part of it. I feel that this way, whether you win or not, you can improve yourself. Compared to other awards, I think Pentawards is the most globally recognised for brand packaging design. Although there are other competitions for packaging design, I think to participate in Pentawards will have a better response from the market, due to the new initiatives of the award this year. For example, the feedback from judges this year, I think it does have a substantial effect and actually helps the participants. For those who are engaged in packaging design, getting Pentawards is really a tremendous achievement. This can be seen from the propaganda of peers.

What's the design concept behind your winning design?

Wudu is a project we have done for a company in Henan, China. The enterprise was looking for a transformation. The original product had no design at all, however, after the ownership pass to the younger generation, they decided to develop the branding and found us to do the redesign for them.

In other countries or regions, that’s very rare to make alcohol with Chinese herbs and animals, but in China, there are many ways to do this. In southern China, snakes are often used to make rheumatism. Bone pain, but in some places in the north, there are ways to use scorpions and ants to make wine. When visiting the company, the client repeatedly emphasized that they had a lot of effort and cost in removing the impurities in their brewing process and hoped that we could better reflect the purity of the wine. In the face of this request, we also conceived a lot of sketches, and finally used the method of punching the rope hanging cards on one side of the bottle cap to place the product name to show the beauty of purity and this bottle.

What's the difference between the local and international market?

China's population has given us a good market advantage. In the past few years, economic growth has also greatly improved domestic consumption awareness and consumption, making life in some cities comparable to some developed countries. However, in my opinion, the number of such cities is still very limited such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen.

Apart from the first-tier cities, there are cities in mainland China struggling to find a good design for their products. You have to have good products and packaging to stand out from the market in the most competitive shopping malls and high street in other countries, however, it’s not necessarily the case in China as the standard of beauty is slightly lower. There are still many places, whether consumers or businesses and they don't pay much attention to product packaging.

However, I am very optimistic about the trends. Because of the changes in the Internet and communication channel, with a smartphone, there are tons of information flying around. The time for viewing pictures or videos far exceeds the time for reading texts. The more companies pay great attention to their own product packaging and marketing methods. The fact is reflected by the numbers of new clients we have in the packaging design industry. Moreover, the national aesthetic and environmental awareness are also growing. The packaging that was so excessive in the past has now been abandoned. Simple and effective products with high aesthetic are the key to form a good word-of-mouth communication.

What's the biggest challenge of working in packaging design in China?

We can see the challenges from different aspects.

1. Lack of talents

The threshold of the design industry in China is not high, which leads to a large population working in this industry, but there are not many people who can keep it up for a long time. We have a lot of design students in the countries but only 15% of them will actually work in the related industry. The low pay for the design professionals is also the reason why we don’t have enough people work in the industry, people would rather use the same skill to apply for the job for technology companies in China. Nowadays, more companies start to realize that products need good packaging and are willing to pay a considerable amount of money to build but we don’t have enough people to fulfil their needs.

2. Increasing competition

The boundaries between China and the international market has gradually disappeared. There are a lot of Chinese companies now invest much more in design than before. As far as packaging design is concerned, it is no longer a novelty for the company to choose a foreign design company or studio to build the product. We are not only competing with other companies in China anymore. However, this kind of challenge is a good opportunity for the China design community to level up and stay competitive.

3. Materials and implementation

In fact, there are many times when we are engaged in packaging design and are still trapped in some limitations of materials and processes. Although it has been greatly developed compared to the past, it cannot be said that it is completely popular and reaches a very high level. For the time being, of course, there are many times when you can only choose materials with more rough minerals and materials that are not environmentally friendly. In order to change this, we participate in some conferences and go to the factories frequently to learn about new processes and trends to actively use more environmentally friendly materials and to simplify the materials.

What advice will you give to people who want to work in packaging design in China?

If you are a young person who is still studying at school, I suggest that you can get more contact with the social design work of the society while you are receiving school education, or even go to the internship early, so that you can understand the industry earlier to understand if this is right for you. For who has already entered the industry I will suggest you be persistent first three years. The demand for customers is increasing and the attention for packaging design from the clients is also increasing. It can be said that the environment for the packaging design industry is much better than before. People working in the design are highly respected and appreciated by the market, it’s a meaningful role that deserves a long time investment. For people who already find passion in the industry, please don’t give up. You can start with the design you are interested in and you will form your own system after years of practice.

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