Every time you reach for that carton of milk or juice, you’re making a brand choice. While you may not be putting a great deal of conscious thought into that choice, the students in FIT’s Packaging Design program are very aware of the decisions that consumers make and how a product’s packaging design influences those choices. In a new exhibition, Project Carton, students are bringing new perspectives to the design of gable-top containers—the coated cardboard cartons we most commonly see in dairy cases. Project Carton is on display from December 18 through January 30 in the streetfront gallery of the Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center at FIT.

Both the exhibition itself and its contents have been designed by the students to mimic a typical supermarket experience with shopping carts, refrigerator cases, brochures in the form of sale circulars, and a gable-top display case—plus life-size cartons visitors can walk in and around. On display are a wide range of products packaged in student-designed gable-top cartons, including milk, juice, sugar, bird food, dog food, rice, honey, coffee, and more. A video of students and faculty talking about the project is also on display.

Project Carton shows how gable-top containers allow brands to communicate their message to consumers. And, because this type of container is a sustainable product, the exhibition highlights FIT’s commitment, both in its curriculum and on its campus, to environmental awareness, which includes the college’s new certificate program in Sustainable Packaging Design.

All of the carton designs were created for a competition for FIT students sponsored by Evergreen Packaging (evergreenpackaging.com), a global leader in creating fiber-based sustainable packaging solutions.

The diverse creativity of the students’ contest entries illustrated how companies can take full advantage of the brand-building power of four carton panels with vibrant, full-color graphics,” says Marianne Klimchuk, professor and associate chair of FIT’s Packaging Design program.

Designing this exhibition gave Packaging Design students the opportunity to work on a large scale, which will serve them well in the future,” adds Anne Kong, assistant professor, Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design. 

The important thing about this exhibition for people to know is that consumers have the power to choose better packaging design,” says student Daniela Maldonado. “People can choose items that are packaged in cartons instead of plastic bottles or containers, which from a sustainable point of view is better.”