When it comes to great packaging for transport IKEA would have to be up there as a world leader. Not only do their boxes fit well on a pallet but what’s inside the box fits the box perfectly with very little empty space needing to be filled with Styrofoam.

I saw a very interesting documentary recently about the design of IKEA products. One of their main criteria for a product to be accepted for manufacture was that it could be broken down into numerous parts that fit well together inside a box, and the box that all those pieces fit into could stack well on a pallet. As if designing a good looking; cost effective; build it yourself; dining room table wasn’t difficult enough already!

When a product breaks down into parts that fit together well in a box there is less need for fillers and less chance of the product being damaged as it is shipped around the world. This is not only more environmentally friendly but results in less items being returned due to knocks and dents from transport.

There is also the added benefit of less cardboard and less fuel being used for packaging and transport – great for the environment and great for the bottom line.

What excites me the most though is the design process! Having to design a product that will work well for an end consumer whilst constantly thinking about the way it will come apart and ship is a real challenge and it is something I appreciate. It is something we as designers face on a daily basis. We don’t just make things look great, good designers solve problems too!

So next time you take an item out of its box, have a good look at the packaging and take note of the design features that have been incorporated to make sure the product got to you in one piece. It may not be to the same calibre as the IKEA designers but I can assure you a lot of thought went into the design.