Anushka Sani’s Unmute with Beyondesign

Anushka Sani is the founder and creative director of Thought Over Design,  an award-winning creative agency in Mumbai. Sani is aware of the impact brands have on people and society. More so now than ever, brands are the tools people use to reinforce their own identity and find their place in the world. Over time, brands become a reflection of culture and collective mindset.  They say - with great power comes great responsibility. But perhaps no one thought that the ‘creative folks’ that create, design and market brands have a responsibility towards the world. As she unmutes with Beyondesign, A

23 Jan 2023 | By WhatPackaging? Team

Anushka Sani, founder and creative director of Thought Over Design


Packaging design as a practice has evolved based on the materials that designers and brand custodians have available. If these materials and possibilities evolve, so will the way we design 

Beyondesign: How have consumer preferences changed in the post Covid-era?
Anushka Sani:
Consumers are looking for transparency and clarity. I think Covid amplified this. As to why do consumers need to read between the lines or see through brand imagery to find out what they're really buying? Consumers are also smartening up and aren't going to be fooled by the claim-game and word play. 

Beyondesign: How are brands adapting to these changes and how are they set to impact packaging design and brand messaging?
Anushka Sani:
Brands are becoming aware of this (or they should be!) and it's not just about looking great on the retail shelf, it's about having a simple clear message across channels and mediums, including the packaging. 

Beyondesign: With brand owners taking strides to achieve their sustainability goals, from a designer’s point of view how can design make the package eco-friendlier?
Anushka Sani:
This is something that I'm very passionate about. That said, this takes collaboration between multiple types of designers along with brand owners. We need industrial designers, material designers and graphic designers to come together on creating new benchmarks and systems for sustainable design to actually work. 

Beyondesign: Is this possible?
Anushka Sani:
Being from a small setup working with brands that don't have crazy MOQ's - I've realised that this is an uphill climb especially when you need aspects like shelf life and storage concerns (which are very valid retail and consumer concerns). All start-up brand owners are so open to using more sustainable options, but these become very tricky when it comes to your MOQ's and cost per SKU. I really want to use this platform as an opportunity to ask printers and paper manufacturers: Please help us help our brand partners with finding new solutions. This goes out to other studio owners or agencies! I wish we could put our experiences on this together and try to find scalable, affordable solutions for our brands and their founders!

Beyondesign: Any such projects you were part of where the design helped reduce the carbon footprint?
Anushka Sani:
For one of our clients (The Whole Truth) - we decided to go extremely DIY on the way they deliver the products their customers buy online through their DTC website. We recommended a use of recyclable brown paper for the boxes which is very minimally screen printed in one colour. Followed by using old papers and shredding them in for insulation instead of using new paper or printing something fancy to insulate the product. We noticed consumers loved this and responded to it so well! And sometimes when you communicate your decisions to customers, they actually appreciate the absence of aesthetics for a larger purpose! (Although, I also think the shredded paper looks cool too!) I want to thank a friend of mine - who runs a boutique sustainable jewellery brand called Real State who first did this thing with shredded paper. I saw it when I bought something from her brand and it was delivered to me with everything mindfully packaged. That's the thing about stuff like this, we can learn from each other and apply it across brands / categories so that these switches benefit everyone! 

Beyondesign: We are seeing pilot projects deployed by global brands such as for the launch of paper-based packaged bottles and tubes. What are the pros and cons of these new waves of paper-based packages?
Anushka Sani:
I see absolutely no cons. Packaging design as a practice has evolved based on the materials that designers and brand custodians have available. If these materials and possibilities evolve, so will the way we design! If the bigger companies pave the way for this, this allows for more R&D to be available to the smaller guys (like us) to either use similar materials or learn from these new processes. In addition, gone are the days where your packaging has to "look" a certain way to be considered luxurious. New luxury isn't about the visual appeal alone and I think that's key.
Beyondesign: But the common questions are: Do they come through with the same barrier properties as plastics would offer? Would they have a good shelf appeal and life? Would it be an economically viable option?)
Anushka Sani:
Well, sometime ago, I saw a post from the COO of Seedlip Drinks in the UK where she mentioned using "bio contributing packaging" :
Available very soon, w/ the help of @magicalmshroom Mycelium Technology, a process that uses the root system of Mushrooms, is a Seedlip Spice 94 Gift Box made of bio-contributing packaging. This means after use it can be composted at home to break down naturally in 40 days & will add nutrients back to the soil.
Link to the post :
Beyondesign: With the boom of eCommerce will the focus of the package design shift to what appears on the screen or on the shelf rather than its functionality?
Anushka Sani:
Definitely not. Now more than ever, consumers are becoming really sensitive to the user experience of things. While you may design very differently for optics on retail vs an Amazon category landing page (Yes, this has become a popular way for us to test our designs) - this will never replace designing for good functionality. They go hand in hand. In fact, while the packaging design or the visual appeal may get you to buy something once - it is in fact its functionality that will ensure whether you buy it again or openly recommend it to your peers.

Beyondesign: Should brands and converters adapt to digital technologies to ease the artwork approval processes? What would be the drawbacks of adapting to a completely online packaging design and artwork approval process?
Anushka Sani:
This is not something that is completely possible online. From a technical standpoint - it is necessary to test your prints in natural light, poor light and generally against your design on screen. Many times we make changes to our files based on the print output. Even during the lockdown period, it has been critical for at least one team member (even if it's on the client side) to take a look at physical proofs before printing the entire run. 

Beyondesign: Likewise, how has design development cycles evolved in these times?
Anushka Sani:
Not much has changed where this is concerned. I'd say if anything - now that we can't physically always visit facilities or check these prints together, we take a day or two more couriering things along with the pantone books so that we can align on final decisions.
Beyondesign: Are brands looking for rapid response and development? Has workflow got affected?
Anushka Sani:
What has changed is brand owners are a lot more understanding of this and tend to be okay with colours being "almost" there. While I'm sure I shouldn't be saying this - I do think sometimes that's ok. There are realities of going to market and timelines, so we do the best we can making sure everyone is safe in the process! 

Beyondesign: Will we see virtual package launches in the future for the sole purpose of promotion and marketing? Will packaging designs shift towards creating an appearance that will keep social media as its core focus? (For instance, the Lay’s chips campaigns)
Anushka Sani:
Packaging is designed for a certain context. If the context for customer consideration is shifting, so will design. In my opinion though, this shouldn't be confused with trends. And I think designing for "social media" as a core focus - becomes more trend based. 

Beyondesign: How can packaging be enhanced to make it more contactless or appealing to the customers as a safe and hygienic offering? (A topmost priority for today’s consumers) 
Anushka Sani:
I'd say, it's helpful to communicate very simply if some measures have been taken to package it in a safer environment. In addition, if there are any unboxing tips or even tips on how to dispose of the packaging, consumers respect and appreciate it.

Unmute in print is a platform where Beyondesign invites designers, printers, artists and anyone from the industry live and/ or in print to share with others and learn together. The platform started online and the response was overwhelming. WhatPackaging? is the print-packaging partner for Unmute with Beyondesign. Do reach out to us on to be a part of this platform.


Latest Poll

The packaging industry is confused by recycling and sustainability rules in India. What is the biggest challenge?


The packaging industry is confused by recycling and sustainability rules in India. What is the biggest challenge?

Shortcomings in EPR policy



Inadequate infrastructure



Shortage of recycling firms



Lack of consumer awareness



Total Votes : 19


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