Double Top – Interview with Marie Falk

Swedish designer Marie Falk was the first person to be a double winner of the Pro Carton Young Designer Awards. Her innovative packaging solution Save the Trip followed her winning entry in the 2017 annual competition. Statistically she had less than a 1% chance of winning again (there were 4 winners and over 400 entries) but clearly she has a real talent for both spotting opportunities and turning them into practical cartonboard solutions. We caught up with her recently to find out what’s she doing now and her experience in being a double winner. “Save the Trip was conceived to both amuse and nourish young travellers. The pack combines healthy snacks with games and crosswords to make long journeys more entertaining, and it's made entirely from cartonboard, meaning it’s easily flattened and recycled” said Marie. “My brief for the assignment was to rethink food packaging to make it more fun, enjoyable and appealing for children. The inspiration for my concept comes from my own experience. We are totally in the hands of service stations or convenience stores when we travel, and the only choices tend to be fast foods which means that you often end up with packaging made of multiple materials, all of which you must get rid of somewhere. It was great to work with cartonboard as it’s such a versatile material and, of course, it’s environmentally friendly.” On winning for the second time, she commented: “It was unreal! Unlike 2017, when I was part of a team that worked on the winning design, this year I did everything myself – the original idea, the structural design, the graphics, mock-ups and documentation. When I realised I was in the final again, I knew that I’d done something that was really good. I thought winning again really wasn’t an option, I just enjoyed participating and felt so pleased to be able to relive it all once again.” Marie is, at least temporarily, lost to the packaging industry and is working as a designer at major Scandinavian stairway manufacturer Eurostair AB in Karlstad. Eurostair designs and manufactures bespoke spiral staircases, straight stairs and steps, gratings and grilles, platforms, modular ramps and ladders for most applications. Marie still closely follows packaging design trends and had this to say about the current debate surrounding waste packaging and plastics: “We need packaging that is easy to recycle. However, while most people believe that it’s the packaging itself that’s bad for the environment, what we actually need is packaging that can help to tackle food waste.” She added: “If you look at packaging in general today, many are hard to empty and have excessive outer packaging. They’re bulky and often made with multiple materials that complicate recycling. We must rethink: brands need to consider packaging that has a clear environmental focus. We also need to encourage customers to recycle more and we need brand owners to be more transparent in their environmental work.” And finally, Marie had some words of advice for other students unsure of how entering the awards might benefit them: “To have this recognition is a great feeling and the awards helped me to build a lot of contacts in business and was a tremendous addition to my CV. I must also thank Pro Carton and the hosts of my visits – Iggesund, Graphic Packaging, Metsä and MMP for their kind hospitality and insight into their operations, it was truly unforgettable.”