The Packaging Impact Design Award (PIDA) France has widened its scope after extending an invitation to The European Institute for Packaging Technology (Esepac), which joined the other university that had participated previously, IUT in Reims. Esepac was the winning institution at an event and award ceremony in Reims in May. Every year, PIDA, a packaging competition sponsored by Swedish paper manufacturer Korsnäs, has a different theme and the brief this year was to give old packaging a new lease on life – in other words, to indentify an alternative purpose beyond its original role.

The lifecycle of packaging is most often short but nevertheless intense. After it fulfils its purpose – to attract buyers and protect the product – its job is done. An unfortunate fate, in the opinion of Japanese packaging designer Akiko Aria. As he poignantly expresses it, “A life of wrapping arouses our sympathy. However beautiful it is, its destiny is to be thrown away.” This year, PIDA challenged its participants to find a secondary use for packaging once the original products had been removed.

The first-place winner, ‘Hands Up’, was a package in the shape of a hand for a football club t-shirt. The concept was based around the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The t-shirt was designed for the supporters of the French team. Wearing the t-shirt and waving the ‘hand’ creates the perfect atmosphere and demonstrates team spirit. It was “brilliantly simple”, according to the jury. Being one and the same, the packaging and intended message have an immediate effect.

The winners, Esepac’s Alexandre Fleuret and Cécile Braconnier, received a trip to Stockholm and a visit to the Korsnäs mill in Frövi as a prize.

“The main thing isn’t winning,” says Sébastien Silvestre, a faculty member at Esepac’s Puy-en-Velay campus. “PIDA is an excellent educational project.”

Having more than one university participating has invigorated the competition and the students have been extremely creative in coming up with new, alternative uses for packaging.

The event also included several interesting lectures on the theme of ‘luxury and sustainability’, with speakers such as Fabrice Peltier, designer and founder of P’Référence and Designpack Gallery, and Emmanuelle Paillat from Carbonne 4. The panel discussion became animated – as panel discussions should.

“The debate on the subject of ‘luxury and sustainable development’ brought to light some apparent contradictions between the luxury sector, which often plays on exaggeration, abundance, visual effects and the extraordinary, and the sustainable development sector, which is more preoccupied with economy, circumspection and reasonable frugality,” says Jean Louis Azizollah, the panel moderator, well-known designer and owner of JLA & Partners.

“As a matter of fact, luxury companies often lead the way in innovative technology, provided that restrictive regulations do not complicate the process either from the point of view of production or from that of consumer advice.”

“The consideration of the stakes implied by sustainability, by industry and consumers alike, should go beyond guilt and seek to develop global ambitions, mixing social, economic and environmental consequences. These directions demand expertise, creating news jobs, most notably in the area of packaging,” Azizollah added.

PIDA was inaugurated in Sweden in conjunction with the Swedish Year of Design in 2005. PIDA was launched in Germany in 2006 and in France in 2007. The Swedish and German events will be held in the autumn.