ITASCA, ILL. — Scott Jost showed a slide of jam-packed grocery store shelves, to hammer home his point that design makes products stand out.
But companies need to invest in design, he said. The sector also could be organized to allow designers to get a small piece of each product sold.
It all helps designers stay involved longer, and align interests, said Jost, vice president of design and innovation for Chicago-based Berlin Packaging LLC, a large supplier of stock rigid packaging. He led the company's creation of an industrial design/brand strategy team set up in loft space in the Chicago Loop.
Jost said manufacturers “are buying time when you hire a design firm.” That means leading consumers to specific products, and also making their shopping experiences easier, he said.
“If I'm the consumer, if I'm at the point of purchase, the thing it does for me, it cuts my search cost,” he said.
Jost told the Plastics News Caps and Closures forum in Itasca that modern consumer choices, like putting dozens of choices of toothpaste out there, can boggle the mind. “I am not helping consumers by putting 58 choices in front of them,” he said.
Designers take many variables under consideration, he said. They understand the context and how a product would be used, who buys it, dispencing needs and the final disposal. And designers at Berlin Packaging do consumer research, looking at hand sizes, motor skills, how they will move using the product.
“So all of that happens before most people think of when they think of design,” Jost said.
Then comes the “noodling” with pen and paper, or sometimes on a tablet. Jost called it “rapid visualization.” And the firm next works to make sure the product meets its intended purpose, which also can be making physical prototypes.
Product design is a way to combat some negative parts of human nature, according to Jost. “Why is design important? It's important because folks are bored.”