A showstopping feast of packaging design inspiration, as winners announced in Pentawards 2023

BigFace Coffee packaging by Zenpack, USA – Platinum Winner © Pentawards 2023

It’s that glorious time of year again when the very best packaging designs grace our screens once more as we reveal the winners of the prestigious Pentawards for 2023. Prepare yourself for a feast of eye-watering creations from some of the industry’s finest.

The winners of this year’s Pentawards have been announced at a ceremony in London, championing the very best in packaging design from around the world. Those celebrating today include leading names such as Backbone Branding, Armenia (boasting nine awards), Auge Design in Italy – with six winning titles, along with Agency of The Year – and James Cropper Luxury Packaging scooping six awards in total.

In an interesting twist, the renowned awards body collaborated with Pantone for the first time to create a new Special Award celebrating the best use of colour. The partnership comes after Pantone’s feature in the Pentawards’ inaugural Trends Report launched in 2021, where Laurie Pressman, vice-president of the Pantone Colour Institute at Pantone LLC, shared her insightful thoughts on the trend ‘Colour As A Key Visual’.

These particular winners were picked from a shortlist of just 25 entries that had used colour in an “innovative way” that was disruptive in their markets and “purposeful” with their packaging design and colour choice. One such winner was Studio Tumpić/Prenc‘s contemporary bottle design for Istriana, inspired by Roman containers that might have stored olive oil. The packaging’s bold colour is mixed with red Istrian earth from the olive groves – just like the clay that was originally used to make the vessels.

Casa Marrazzo 1934 by Auge Design, Italy – Diamond Winner © Pentawards 2023

Casa Marrazzo 1934 by Auge Design, Italy – Diamond Winner © Pentawards 2023

From the wealth of winning work elsewhere, the jury highlighted several key trends in packaging, such as statement designs that use bold and visual messaging to encourage better recycling practices or playing with paper to create more interactive and eco-friendly unboxing experiences. And there were many elements that spark purpose and positive actions.

Looking more closely at the winners, the Diamond Award – the organisation’s highest accolade – went to Auge Design for Casa Marrazzo 1934. Capturing the brand’s nostalgic essence, the agency used a sophisticated, warm, naive style to illustrate home objects on clear glass jars. Custom caps and an elegant palette distinguish each product, with vibrant gold-printed labels for shelf appeal. Unique screen-printed illustrations on the jars, meanwhile, add authenticity and emotion, giving that premium feel.

“What we loved about this entry was how it blended the structural design of a new shape with some beautiful and bold images and graphics that we haven’t seen before,” says David Gadd, design director at Mars Food. “It also has touches of craft and detail that accompany the whole thing stretched throughout a brand rod, also a fantastic showcase of this brand. It really brought many different elements together to create something which is just stunning and a beautiful object of design.”

Casa Marrazzo 1934 by Auge Design, Italy – Diamond Winner © Pentawards 2023

Studio Tumpić/Prenc‘s contemporary bottle design for Istriana – Special Award X Pantone © Pentawards 2023

Studio Tumpić/Prenc‘s contemporary bottle design for Istriana – Special Award X Pantone © Pentawards 2023

This year’s Special Awards, which recognise remarkable achievements in packaging design by individuals and agencies, were also handed out. Auge Design scooped Design Agency of The Year, while Bosai Gift by Drawrope won the Design With Purpose Award. Elsewhere, Elisava Barcelona School of Design and Engineering was named Educator of The Year, and NXT-GEN Best Student Work was awarded to Muety, Yun Zhu from the Kuwasawa Design School in Japan.

Amongst the Platinum Award winners was Zenpack‘s packaging design for BigFace Coffee. Crafted for wide appeal, the design exudes luxury with flawless edges, filled negative space, and minimalistic labels. A QR code reveals farm data, whilst precision-made corners and custom moulds ensure durability. And landscape-oriented bags with tear-tops outperform competitors.

If that wasn’t enough, precision-made corners and custom moulds ensure durability – the distinct roasts are housed in silver, black, and white boxes, each with a unique charm. “It was simply a product where it is very easy to go in a different design direction and stay in a more conventional way, but this winner has literally broken all of the rules when it comes to that,” remarks jury judge Anita Kuit from The Walt Disney Company. “They have really done something very different; it was outer packaging, it was inner packaging, complete packaging, it puts a smile on your face. That emotional connection is again something that is very difficult to do, but they have successfully done that.”

BigFace Coffee packaging by Zenpack, USA – Platinum Winner © Pentawards 2023

Pick Up! by Auge Design, Italy – Platinum Winner © Pentawards 2023

Pick Up! by Auge Design, Italy – Platinum Winner © Pentawards 2023

Mi Earphones Explore by Xiaomi, China – Platinum Winner © Pentawards 2023

Another Platinum Award highlight was Auge Design’s work for Pick Up! The Italian agency brightened the brand’s standard yellow for a youthful look, allowing its personality to shine without overshadowing the family line. The modernised logo, inspired by the ’90s but “fresh for today”, reinforces Pick Up! as a vibrant standout in the market.

There was also the packaging design for Mi Earphones Explore by Xiaomi, China, which made the best use of moulded natural fibre to house the headset and its complex curves. As the judge and design lead at Taxi Studio Clem Halpin puts it: “It was just so beautifully minimal; of course, we have seen so many minimal packs today in any number of categories, but this particular winner within that particular category really stood out. It was like a beacon of simplicity and beautiful forms. It was a really easy decision for us.”

Now in its 17th year, the Pentawards received over 2,000 entries from more than 70 countries across five continents for its 2023 contest. Studios and designers from China, the UK, Spain, the United States, Japan and Italy received the highest number of awards. Out of all the entries, around 600 were shortlisted by the competition’s international jury and revealed earlier this year.

By Far packaging design – Platinum Winner © Pentawards 2023

Cute Cure Healing Kit by Cute Cure, Lithuania – Platinum Winner © Pentawards 2023

Judges were selected from far and wide, with leading industry names from a whole host of respected brands and agencies – from Pentagram, Supple Studio and LEGO to PepsiCo, Meta and Superunion. All winners can be seen on the Pentawards website from today.

“It’s been a hugely exciting year for Pentawards, not only due to the calibre of entries but also with the announcement of our partnership with Pantone and the introduction of a new category which allows us to celebrate arguably one of the most visually arresting aspects of packaging design – colour,” says Head of Pentawards Adam Ryan. “With noticeable trends also emerging and a continuing focus on designing with interaction, purpose and action in mind, it’s such an exciting time for packaging design, and it’s an honour to celebrate it each year.”

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