Special Carriers

September 23, 2020

We were tasked with building a carrier, made out of only cardboard, to protect, carry, and warrant appreciation for a specific object. Then we were asked to not only focus on the utility of the carrier, but also the role of packaging in gift-giving. I’m assuming this means the carrier should be functional and hold aesthetic value, creative wonderment, or some combination of the two. To prep for this project, I studied packaging I own and analyzed how it fulfills these roles.

Built in stand (upper left and right), Layers securing a handle (lower left), Easy access to product (lower right)

When looking for packaging that I already own, I noticed that the carriers I kept rather than threw out had some special purpose. The colored pencils’ outer packaging split in the middle to create a stand, the humidifier had layers of cardboard that secured the handle, and the acne dots container’s top flipped open for easy access. Usually, packaging is separate from the object it holds and is discarded when it is no longer used for shipping; however, these examples of packaging are required for the object to work as intended. Not only is it one with the product, it actually adds to the experience. Colored pencils without this stand technology would make it difficult for the user to find the correct color, and similarly with the acne dots. The layers of cardboard securely holds in place the handle to take into account the weight of the humidifier. Without these additions, the products would be inconvenient to use.

These packagings also create a gift-giving appeal, particularly the colored pencils, since the stand offers a way to display the pencils. Although not in a traditional gift-giving sense, I believe that this surprise amenity adds value to the product. If I were to receive these colored pencils, I would be pleased that the creators spent energy in considering my usage of it, and would assume that the gift was, in a very capitalist way of describing it, expensive. I think in this sense, added utility fulfills the requirement of being a gift-givable carrier.

Notes on existing flower bouquet carriers

__________________________

The object I chose was a flower bouquet. There are many forms of carriers for flower bouquets, the most common one being a clear plastic cone shaped bag. When studying existing carriers, I realized that using cardboard to make a carrier was going to be a challenge. Typically, something flexible is used to adhere to the contours of the flower bouquet, which varies depending on the amount of flowers, type of flowers, etc. Also, clear plastic adds the benefit of allowing the buyer and receiver to see the bouquet clearly, while still protecting it. I will try to achieve the same aspects when I design the cardboard carrier.

Prototyping and brainstorming

September 28, 2020

Keeping my research in mind, I started sketching ideas that would accomplish the requirements I found in successful flower bouquet carriers. I also thought of ways to improve the standard carrier design. Here were some of the things I thought should be present in the prototype:

  • Protect the flowers from damage (specifically the head)
  • Allow visibility of the flowers from the outside (for both aesthetic value and for convenience)
  • Should be easy to carry
  • Add some sort of value to the flower bouquet after it has been “carried” to the intended destination

This was a lot to consider since cardboard has its limitations. I started out by sketching designs that would check off a few of these points.

Brainstorming ideas and sketching prototypes

The design on the left appealed the most to me since it was able to accomplish most of the tasks: protection, visibility, and carrying. I also planned for the carrier to be able to transform into a display piece so that the last point of adding value was also fulfilled.

To start creating this prototype, I made a mini cone out of newsprint so I could understand how to draft the slanted circular opening.

A mini prototype to the prototype was made so I could understand the geometrical net of a slanted cone

After I assembled a cone, I made vertical folds to help me score the real prototype. I basically flattened the cone at its highest peak and then flattened it in between the folds I just made until I had 8 guidelines.

Translating the dimensions and angles of the cone into a full model was a struggle. I ended up measuring the length of each side in centimeters and then scaled it to fit the appropriate size.

My “net” for the slanted cone

As you can see, each side was a unique length since the model was not a perfect cone. When drawing the net, I also added a flat side for the handle, the lid, and the tabs. Then came the problem of drawing the angles of the cone correctly.

Since this was a home-made template, none of the angles were convenient. I used a combination of the 30'60' triangle and the 45'90' triangle to estimate the angle that each plane extends from the tip. From that, I was able to draw the figure on cardboard at a larger scale.

The cardboard translation of the net (left) and the assembled cone with a sketching of the lid (right)

I left the lid extra large so that I could assemble the cone first and then trace the lid’s outline. Since I made some alterations to the conical shape, I wasn’t exactly sure what the opening would look like from the net, and I wasn’t in the mood to be hasty. So, I cut the lid after making the cone.

When I constructed the cone, I found that the tabs were not fitting snuggly, so I made some notes in my sketchbook to fix this later on.

Creating the tabs for the lid

While cutting the tab holes for the lid, I realized I had forgotten to add tabs! To fix this quickly, I grabbed some tape and leftover cardboard to attach make-shift extensions that could secure the lid in place.

Adding the handle

I drew inspiration from the humidifier box (that I studied on day 1) to create a handle that was encompassed by multiple layers of cardboard. On the bottom layer of cardboard, the handle is inserted into slits and then taped on the back. The second layer has a rectangular opening for the whole handle to be feed through. I felt that this was the most secure way I could attach a handle, so that it would not collapse from heavy weight. However, this type of handle has its setbacks. Firstly, there has to be tape for the handle to be anchored on the first layer, and secondly, this handle makes it harder for the second layer flap to be opened and closed.

Nevertheless, I set out to finish this model by adding a cut out design to the lid so that the flowers can be seen.

The finished prototype 1!!

Another problem I ran into was the accessibility of the flower stems so someone could take the bouquet out of the carrier. In this prototype, the side is difficult to open due to the handle. Because of this, I’m pretty sure most people would try to open the lid, only to find that they would have to pour the flowers out or grab the bouquet by the flower heads (oh no!).

Notes on improvements

In response to the errors I found in my prototype, I jotted down some notes and also sketched out ways for the tape to be removed from the handle.

____

After this prototype, I decided that I wanted to explore another design I created, so that I could learn more about what works and what doesn’t. This time, I drafted a hexagonal pyramid that would hopefully remedy the issue of accessibility to the flowers in my previous model.

The sketch for prototype 2: hexagonal pyramid

With the experience of creating one model under my belt, this one was remarkably easier to plan and construct. I sketched this with the intensions of the user opening the side to access the flowers while keeping the lid fixed.

The basic structure of prototype 2

With a new model, comes new problems. Since I did not add an extra plane layer where the tab would be, there was a gaping hole there. I’m glad I chose to not have an extra layer in this version because now I know that it is needed. There are also problems with the tabs like with the other iteration, but this time the issue was slightly different: I placed the slits and the extensions in the wrong orientation. Also, the pyramid was slightly too short for it to hold the flowers and properly protect them.

Then the final step was adding the cut-out design.

The finished prototype 2!

Moving forward:

  • How to remove adhesives and use only cardboard
  • Does the carrier allow for easy access?

Back at the drawing board

September 30, 2020

Since we were supposed to think of more ideas rather than refine our existing prototypes, I decided to tackle the handle problem and create a new design. For this design I wanted to simplify my previous prototypes in attempt to have the process of removing the flowers be more straight forward. So, I tried to create a diamond shaped box with an openable side door.

Sketch of the diamond shaped prototype

This time, I wanted to test out a few new techniques. The first one was scoring the cardboard in the opposite way I had been doing it, so with the score facing the inside of the box. To my surprise, it worked quite well and was able to keep the fold (although not as well as with the scoring on the outside). The outside of the package looked a lot cleaner this way, but I couldn’t help but think that it looked a bit plain this way. The exposed corrugation acted like a decoration in my other prototypes.

However, I ran into a lot of set-backs on this iteration. Drawing and cutting out the net was pretty simple, but the construction caused difficulties. When I drafted this idea, I took inspiration from a classmate Max’s design. Max made a triangular pyramid using tabs that enter the corrugation of the cardboard. He pushed the corrugation inwards to make room fro the tab, and then was able to have it hold its shape. When I tried to do this, it did not work at all. After looking at Max’s design again, I realized my tabs were too far down, which caused the top of the pyramid to gape open.

The unsuccessful triangular pyramid top

The tabs held the faces in place only a few times, and after opening and closing it too many times, the friction that held the tabs in place was worn down. Now, it doesn't even close without popping open immediately.

Then I experimented with handles by first sketching out ideas and then creating small scale versions.

Sketch of possible handle attachers
Handles I created

My first instinct was to have the handle attach using a slide in slot technique. This was ok for the most part; however, under lots of weight, it would start to undo itself. Then I decided to do a more puzzle piece type of attacher.

Testing the durability of the handle

This handle did not budge even under my full force.

Moving forward:

  • Does the carrier allow for easy access while being protective?
  • How to create a durable tab system

Back at the drawing board (again)

October 6, 2020

During the last class, we touched upon many points that I found constructive towards my own prototypes. We did an exercise where we made a hierarchy of elements that would make packaging good and the same for elements that would make it bad. This forced me to analyze what functions I would prioritize when making my flower bouquet carrier.

My breakout group and I decided that the list was (from most important to least important): function, experience, aesthetics, ability to be repurposed, and durability. This varied drastically with my bullet pointed list I had at the beginning, which was: protect the flowers, allow visibility, easy to carry, adding value after it served its initial purpose. My first list had function as the third most important thing!

Afterwards, Steve and Stacie made some points during class that stuck with me:

  • the carrier shouldn’t take away from or overpower the object
  • think about the different circumstances the carrier will be used

To the first point, I realized that the designs of my earlier prototypes were competing for attention with the flowers. All of my prototypes have been trying to cover the flowers and also drawing attentnion to the packaging with cut out shapes. I decided that this was too overpowering, and that the flowers did not need extra gift-giving packaging for it to be perceived as a gift. Flowers are the star of the show, so the work of my carrier is to support it.

To the second point, when Steve said ‘imagine you are taking this carrier on the bus’ (paraphrased) the inability of my carrier to be put down seemed like a much more pressing issue.

____

I finally decided to tackle my first prototype. It had been a while since I did the sketches of what I was planning to edit on the first iteration, so everything was a bit fuzzy. Nevertheless, I created the improved version.

Refining the first iteration
The net for the new version!
The carrier

There were more flaws in this version than the first prototype. Because I did not layer the opening, it created a large gap at the bottom, so I tried to fix this by just cutting away most of the bottom. Moreover, the tab wasn’t very secure, so putting heavy objects like large flowers into it would probably pop the tab open. The only thing that improved was the handle (which was the finished handle from the last update).

Here is the finished prototype 1.1 (second iteration of the first prototype)

Needless to say, I was not happy with this new design. I think I have a lot more to refine and edit in order for it to be functional.

I moved on to a new design concept that was more simplistic.

Sketches for the new, simple model

I wanted this version to let the flowers shine by having a simple design. Doing this prototype made me realize that the simpler the concept, the harder it is to design. In contrast to my other prototypes, this one had to complete all the desired functions while not having many moving parts. It also allowed flaws to be more noticeable.

Paper stencil

To try and mitigate any flaws, I created a paper stencil of the shape. I wanted it to be perfectly symmetrical, and that was almost impossible using the cardboard alone. The paper stencil allowed me to fold it in half to get an exact symmetrical figure, and helped me place my scoring.

The final design for prototype 4

The hardest part of this design was figuring out how to connect the two handles. Since the design was so simple, I couldn’t do anything too big and jarring. After pondering over it for a while, I decided a simple tab would be the least distracting way of doing this. Other ideas included: an additional cardboard piece that would fit over both handles like a clip, a slot method on the two handles(could not work because the cardboard was not flexible enough), and somehow sliding one of the handles through the other. None of these seemed like they would look particularly good, not to mention they might not even work.

Assembling prototype 4

Moving forward:

  • How can we simplify while maintaining function

A fresh start

October 7, 2020

Feedback on prototypes:

  • Protect the flower head
  • Handle should be comfortable
  • Should be easy for the user to figure out

When Steve and Stacie narrowed down what elements we should focus on, I was able to have a clearer understanding of what I needed to accomplish. The carrier criteria (at least for now) would be easy of assembly, carrying, and opening. Taking too long to do any of these tasks would impede the interaction.

Previously, I edited my design to specifically show the flower head, but now looking back, I think I took it to the extreme. So, I set out to redesign my carrier to protect the flowers while making it evident that the carrier holds flowers. This is a tricky thing to balance.

I asked Steve and Stacie about this issue, and they responded that I didn’t have to show the flowers in order to let it be known that the carrier holds flowers. They also said that the flowers don’t have to be fully covered in order to protect them. Partially covering or fully covering the flower heads would serve the purpose of protecting it too. I showed my prototype 1 and got feedback that the flower cut outs are becoming graphic.

____

With these things in mind, I started sketching.

Sketching!

Then I fabricated the cardboard net

Bringing the design to life

I spent around half of the time thinking and sketching the details of this prototype. I wanted it to work! There were a couple of things that I had to change from the net in order for the model to fit correctly. The thickness of the cardboard is actually quite large when working towards a geometric figure. Certain areas would have layers of cardboard, so I had to shift the cut or score line slightly to have it flesh with the rest of the plane. Little nuances like this took me the most time.

Fixing the issue with opening of the side door

Another problem popped up with the door. Because the carrier was a trapezoidal shape, the doors would have a slight tilt when opened (pictured on the left). So, I cut off the corners to allow for easy opening (middle and right pictires).

Before without the cut out (left) and after the cut out(right)

Also, my original design felt too stuffy. The plain panels on the sides were not allowing the flowers to be seen, and they squished the sides. When I cut out windows in the handles, I was afraid the structural integrity would decrease; however, they were still very strong.

Sketching different cut out designs
Turning the carrier into a vase (top left), removing the flowers (top right), carrying the flowers (bottom left), and assembling the carrier (bottom right)

Moving forward:

  • Does the carrier take away from the object?
  • How to protect and display at the same time

Refining

October 13, 2020

We had a peer review of our carriers during class. Every class, our flower bouquet group has a chance to talk to one another and discuss technique, structure, and improvements. This time the peer review was conducted by the the apple carrier group, who have not seen our carriers in detail. They gave us feedback on vital points outlined by Steve and Stacie.

The comments made by the apple carrier group

The main takeaways I got from this critique was that for the most part, my carrier was doing what it should, which is that the carrier is intuitive to assemble, it describes what it contains, it protects the flowers, and it is interactive. I was pleasantly surprised by these comments as I had assumed that my carrier would have more issues regarding intuitive use. Since I have been working on this project for so long, it is hard to know what is really intuitive for someone who is not familiar with the object. However, I am glad to know that it can be easily assembled by someone else.

The one issue they pointed out was how the flowers had to be removed in order to morph the carrier into a vase. They had concerns about it causing unnecessary movement towards the fragile flowers. I hadn’t taken this into consideration when making the design, so I decided that for the next iteration, I would alter the process of transforming the carrier into a vase.

Afterwards, my flower bouquet group very kindly gave my carrier another critique, and they also suggested that I change it so the flowers don’t have to be moved. Another comment was that the flower bouquet may fall when opening the side door. Funnily enough, the flowers did fall when I opened the door on the side in the video from my previous post (the upper right of the last group of videos). I would somehow have to secure the flowers inside the box so that the flowers would stay up right as I opened the side.

Quick notes from class

____

First, I had to figure out how I was going to fold and attach the handles to the outside of the carrier. Originally, the handles folded inwards and were kept in place by friction. However, handles on the outside would have to be secured using some sort of mechanism.

Sketches of the mechanism to hold the handle in place

My initial reaction to this predicament was to have the handle fold or be strapped to the body. To test if these methods worked, I created smaller scale mock handles.

Folding method
Strapping method

None of these methods worked because the thickness of the handle warped the cardboard underneath. This would not work for the carrier, and I had to think of another way to hold the handles in place. I thought about using vertical tabs or horizontal tabs, but my experience with tabs have been disappointing. Usually, my tabs end up becoming weaker as they are worn down, so I wanted to avoid using any type of tab.

Then I thought about folding the handle in horizontally. This method would prevent the cardboard from warping since only a sliver would be removed and the bulk of the handle would not be impeded. Also, the handles already had a perfect shape for this method because the end section folded perpendicular to the carrier when the handles are brought down. I used my previous model to test this theory.

Slotting in (left), View of secured handle (middle), Inside of the carrier with slotted handle (right)

It worked for the most part; however, as seen in the right picture, the handle would be blocked by the volume of the flower stems. So, to account for this, I made the handles of the next version one inch shorter.

Now there is room for the flowers!
Slotting the handle (left), The secured handle (middle), the inner workings (right)
Slotting in the handles

I still have to work on keeping the flowers upright when opening the side door. This will be my focus for the next rendition.

Moving forward:

  • How to prevent the flowers from falling when opened
  • How to make the “vase” form visually appealing

Final Stage

October 19, 2020

On Wednesday, I had my individual meeting with Steve and Stacie, and I got valuable feedback about concerns with my design. I expressed that I thought the design was not elegant enough compared to other people’s carriers, and Stacie mentioned that I could solve this by making the carrier taller. However, they noted that if I made the carrier taller, I would have to alter the base to bring back stability. They also said that this wasn’t a large issue to focus on and that other things are more important.

I’m glad I got this advice from them since I created a new more elegant design before the meeting that I was unsure of. I was thinking of how to create a support system to keep the flowers upright and to make it look more visually appealing. However, after my meeting I realized the issue of being elegant was not a large enough problem to alter my design so much.

The scrapped design

Even though I was not going to venture into this new design too much, I decided to try and see if the altered handle design would work. Since the sides were sloped upwards rather than parallel to the bottom, the original handle design would not work. I thought that creating vertical slits for the handles to fold away into would work the same way as my original mechanism.

Testing the new handle mechanism

However, this did not work. I overestimated the flexibility of cardboard as the handle would not bend enough to fit into a vertical slit without bending. So I scrapped this new design and moved on to refining my previous design.

____

Here are the focus points of refinement:

  • Inner stability for the bouquet
  • Visual cues for the door

Keeping the flowers upright was the next step in refining my carrier. Looking at what I had already created, I realized that utilizing the handles as a make-shift holder of the flowers would not work. Firstly, they are only inside the cavity of the carrier when it is in vase mode. Secondly, the handles did not have a circular shape to house the bouquet. I decided that this was not a path worth experimenting with.

The handles acting as a holder

Then, I thought to cut out a piece of cardboard from one of the sides and fold it down to hold the bouquet in place.

Folding down a piece of the side with a hole for the bouquet

This method achieved stabilizing the flowers; however, there were many issues. When the side was opened to take the flowers out, the holder would pop up because it was anchored to the door. The flap could not be a full square to cover the gaps because its dimensions were constrained to the size of the back panel. It was also hard to get the flowers out of the hole because you would have to push the flowers upwards from the bottom.

The main problem with this method was that the material I could utilize was limited, so I thought of a way to increase the amount of cardboard I could work with for the holder.

Adding a stabilizer for the flowers in the center using an extended panel

My plan was to increase the height of one of the “doors” of the carrier to include the square holder (the flap on the lower left of the right photo). The original design had both pairs of flaps acting as layered doors, but this iteration has one of the flaps as a holder and the other flap as a single door. The “V” shape of the door would still be present, but it would be a cut out instead of being functional. The mock-door allows for the facade to be symmetrical while allowing me to alter the inner design.

In addition to adding the extended panel, I made the carrier slightly taller and wider at the base.

New design with inner paneling
Tab from the panel (at the top) inserts into the slit

The side panel folds into the carrier and gets wedged into place using tabs. The inner panel is sturdy and allows for the user to take the flowers out easily. The rectangular cut out of the inner panel makes it so that the bouquet can be taken out without lifting the stems through the circle upwards. My main concern with this was that the single door panel in the back created a big gap at the edge.

The gap created from using a single door

Upon further inspection, the gap was caused by inadequate space for the layering panels. When creating the new iteration, I extended the side of the middle panels that had an outer flap.

Annotated alterations of extending the panels (left), minimized gap (right)

Extending the panels made the gap a lot smaller.

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Next was adding visual cues to the door opening. I decided that my previous double tab method was unnecessary for the doorway and led to unneeded struggle. I reverted to using a single tab with a piece that extends from the surface for the user to pull on when opening the tab.

Visual cue for the tab

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The final model:

Since the carrier takes on the role of carrying and displaying, I decided to take a photo of the carrier in use by showing it being held and having it be used as a vase.

Overall, I am happy with my final design. It accomplishes everything that I set out to do, which was protect the flowers, allow for visibility, ease of carrying, and adding value besides carrying.

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