Studio O.OO on “non-traditional” packaging, like a tea box that stacks like a gradient puzzle
The studio’s last few years of work can be likened to a recent project for a mango gift set – appetising from the first, hiding juicier methods beneath.
- Liz Gorny
- 25 July 2022
“We remember a customer once telling us that ‘Your design keeps people at a distance, and it looks cold’,” Pip Lu, co-founder and art director of O.OO, reflects. We’re discussing packaging, an area of the studio’s practice that, since our last catch-up in 2019, has been a mainstay in its output. Back to Pip: “We thought about it later. It might be because we don’t want to only satisfy customers, but want to bring a little change to the overall market too.” Pip says that if you look through some of its packaging projects, you’ll find “non-traditional” modes of communication laced throughout – although, we’d add that these surprising twists and arrangements are everywhere in the O.OO portfolio.
Take its work on Mangology, providing the packaging for a brand selling gift boxes containing six “giant” mangos, or its work for Buddha Tea House, another gift set, this time for gently fragranced tea. In each, traces of O.OO’s signature experimental techniques are there, but the studio seems to be embracing the new even more – hence the “coldness”. “The current market is full of similar product packaging, and even the emergence of so-called “template design”, says Pip. O.OO has not just been avoiding similarity with its designs but is trying to advance the market itself, pushing the boundaries of what packaging can achieve.
In the case of the Buddha Tea House set, the clients were a family tea house business passed down through generations; the second generation wanted to switch up marketing methods. O.OO responded by setting up promotional activities, but also creating packaging that can be stacked horizontally or vertically to create “a gift box wall” – a jigsaw of intersecting visuals. The collection comprises four boxes, and each side features gradient colours that evoke a roof or tea cup. When layered together, the shapes reference the layering of tea itself, “the stacking of flavours over time”, explains Pip.
But packaging is just one area the studio has been excelling in. O.OO has similarly innovated with an exhibition identity for Unconstrained Textiles: Stitching Methods, Crossing Idea. The exhibition focused on the theme of textile art and quilting, “splicing” techniques from seven different countries in the process. From a distance, O.OO’s identity looked like mere text. Only when audiences get close do they see the “weaving” or “patchwork” within the details.
It seems a lot has happened in three years for the studio. Including, let’s not forget, a pandemic. “In the past two years of the global epidemic, we believe there are more things that help us to be introspective in what’s been happening around us and plan for the future.” These events have also impacted O.OO’s output. It’s led to them cherishing “simple online relationships” with creative collaborators more and to a return to what O.OO do at its core. “Instead of pursuing new products and visions like we used to do, we attempted to return to the original and practice some basic design skills,” spending more time on the same project. The fruits of this introspection are plain to see in the projects below.
O.OO: Mangology Giftbox (Copyright © O.OO, 2021)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.