Design is about many things from clarity and beauty to effective communication and problem solving. But, what is the best way to evaluate and measure successful design? Four years ago the AIGA launched the Justified competition with these questions in mind, creating a rigorous competition built around the case study format and the Living Principles for Design framework, rather than the simple selection of artifacts. This year Justified received the largest number of submissions yet (more than the past three years combined). With fewer than three percent of the submissions selected for recognition, “Justified” is the profession’s most selective competition. We are honored to be included among the 19 winning selections along with our compatriots at IDEO, Pentagram, and Second Story.

The HP Chromebook 11 project.

The client was interested in designing a packaging solution that supported the values of the brand, including concepts such as minimalism, efficiency, social and environmental responsibility, innovation and approachability. The audience is people at the lower end of the income spectrum, as well as people in Third World economies. The role of the packaging is to provide maximum protection for the product on its path from factory to the consumer—while at the same time to minimize the environmental impact and the cost impact on the product itself.

The inspiration for the final package came from a humble take-out box that is both functional and compostable. Working closely with a team of structural packaging designers from Uneka, we determined that paper pulp could be used to make a material that was remarkably biodegradable yet sturdy enough to protect the laptop. This hypothesis led to a series of experiments that ultimately led to an innovative solution using a tree-free compostable pulp made from rapidly renewable plant fibers. These fibers consist of bamboo and bagasse (a by-product of sugar cane) interwoven together to create a strong pulp material that costs about the same as plastics or paper, yet much better for the environment.

Perhaps no other entry better represents the spirit of ‘Justified’ than this packaging for HP’s Chromebook.

Christopher Simmons

2014 AIGA Justified Chair

Helpful Links
Read the full case study on AIGA.org
View all 19 Justified award recipients
Learn about the Living Principles