Oliver van Lent The Art of Unboxing

  • Tauira / Student
    Oliver van Lent
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Katie Kerr, Tatiana Tavares
Judge's comments:

An amazing piece of work that not only explores the art of unboxing, it nails it! We loved the notions of expectation & mystery.


“The Art of Unboxing” explores the experience and ceremony of unboxing through packaging design, drawing on our five senses as a framework for design investigation. The outcome is a set of five boxes, each representing a different sense — sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch — which takes you on an experiential journey as you explore the layers of the boxes. “The Art of Unboxing” asks the question: ‘What is our sensory experience with packaging?’

The project looks into notions of expectation, mystery, anticipation, excitement, and engagement. It questions the way packaging enhances the revealing process of the item inside. Each package is purposely black and uniform in shape to allow emphasis to be directed to the sensory experience. The minimal, poetic text aligns to give the reader clues to the senses being evoked. The cubes inside each box are not anything of value — instead simply representing an object contained.

The central approach for this project was to focus on the senses in their purest form through packaging design. I drew on keywords to describe personas for the five senses, generating unique perspectives that would have not otherwise been obvious, as well as thought-provoking questions and phrases as the base of the text for the project. To refine the design, prototypes were made and tested. Designs were modified to better communicate the intent.

Helpful in articulating these ideas was a book named The Senses: Design Beyond Vision by Ellen Lupton and Andrea Lipps (2018). The book, together with the interactive exhibition held at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, helped me investigate multi-sensory design associated with the senses and experience.

The project also explores how a multi-sensory approach can embed a lasting and engaging experience through the ceremony of unboxing. With increased online shopping and a reduction in the value of disposable items, this is an intervention to enhance the value of the object by evoking memories and experiences.