Exclusive: Tapping into packaging design with Carré Basset’s Trends Observatory

Exclusive: Tapping into packaging design with Carré Basset’s Trends Observatory

Ruby Mellish

Ready to take a deep dive into the future of luxury packaging? Carré Basset shared its vision with Formes de Luxe of what tomorrow will bring with its Trends Observatory Opus 2023. We discuss the creative directions luxury packaging is taking from visual, tactile, and sensory perspectives with Sylvine Nuret, Head of Strategic Planning at the Paris-based design agency and Pauline Meslier, Head of Packaging. 

Before we look into the packaging trends you've outlined, what are the major takeaways from your Trends Observatory?

Sylvine Nuret: We’re seeing the acceleration of a few trends, the first of which is, unsurprisingly, around sustainability. About how nature is represented, so more of a focus on visual and tactile effects than purely on function. We see ecology as having a significant impact on the luxury space as it is helping brands to reinvent themselves from a creative perspective by making them reflect on new usages, rituals, and materials.

Gucci Osteria x Karime Lopez

Another major marker that we’re identified is the pack’s journey into storytelling as it becomes a media in and of itself. This results in packaging that is visibly ‘chattier’ or busier when it comes to text, to visuals and even to its sensory facet. There is a real evolution here as packaging shifts from being merely a functional object to a relational tool.

Pauline Meslier: One telling illustration of this in our Trends Observatory is a bottle that amasses six different fonts to give a strong sense, and almost an overdose of graphics. Until recently, luxury brands avoided this kind of approach as it didn’t fit with the sector’s defined codes. But today, on the contrary, we’re seeing that any elements which can draw the consumer into a media type of universe will get the green light. It’s a much more ‘expressionist’ atmosphere, but which doesn’t necessarily mean one that is too busy or saturated.

Omsky Studio for 7 a.m. coffee

SN: Another example is an olive oil from the Lolita brand whose bottle replicates an entire page from Nabokov’s famed novel. In this case the packaging becomes a medium for the brand’s story, and not merely a container for the product inside. It’s a perfect illustration of how much more linked to communication and storytelling packaging is becoming, to the point where it reaches the status of vector.

Lolita Olive Oil

What would you say these trends have in common?

SN: First their ability to connect with reality, be it through nature, culture, childhood, or technology and then to transcend that through the imagination to tell new stories and invent new models. We reconcile what is practical in the pack: usage, materials, weight… and to have meaning we go a bit further: we add history, emotion, and experience.

Texture is also very present throughout. The luxury space is seeing more demand for sensorial elements and materials are being called on to speak to the senses. We’ve emerged from a time when economy was the norm; today we’re into accumulation to give stronger sensations and emotions to consumers. The post-covid climate is also a factor here as consumers seek the thrill of all things sensory as a way to compensate for the omnipresence of digital.

PM: However, we mustn’t forget that trends are valuable only if they have a deep resonance with the brand and/or the product itself. And even if this is the case, the luxury consumer will be permanently challenging brands when it comes to their efforts to surprise or in their initiatives to renew their brand space. A brand with very strong and established codes can ‘afford’ to occasionally go out on a limb and play outside of its universe. In that case, there is room to play and to divert.

Trend #1: Biophilic Beliefs

The first social trend puts the accent on the urgency to address environmental issues, on the different relationships that exist with nature and the representations of nature that speak to us today. We see these representations as both authentic and resilient: nature that comes from the beginning of time, one that is extremely resilient. Here we’re seeing moss, mold, mushrooms, fern… Ageless nature that crosses through time and can reinvent itself time and time again.

David Brandon Geeting x Lina Sun Park

This trend also addresses science, but not in opposition to nature. The idea is more towards how we can place science and technology at nature’s service. How can we repair errors, minimize impact, or use art to raise sensibilities and even render nature more precious to the point that it needs to be protected. Science is a way of preserving and amplifying experiences and emotions.

The Nue Co

In terms of packaging, how can we talk about nature: through changes on the hierarchy of information regarding issues of recyclability, for example. In the wine sector, this could be communicating a brand’s biodynamic positioning by making this stand out more than other types of information.

Waterford Biodynamic Luna 1.1

The idea is to investigate the place we are giving to nature by exploring the infinitely small and infinitely large. Addressing nature as if it had nearly magical properties to put on center stage by making a connection between pack and terroir, deep diving into the ingredients themselves via the pack so that the consumer can truly ‘feel’ nature through the pack. Examples include Ruinart, whose secondary packaging explores the molded pulp material to evoke the sensation of the brands’s chalk cellars, or skincare brand Ewe Care’s ceramic jar that replicates sheep wool. Or thanks to the pack, to encapsulate nature as Susanne Kaufmann has done.

Ewe Care

There are a number of different ways to celebrate nature through packaging: it can encapsulate nature, make the consumer feel it from a highly sensory perspective or play with it to create novel experiences.

Phyto Nectars
Kennedy Yanko for Louis Vuitton

Trend #2: Ethereal Extravaganza

This is a trend that illustrates a highly emotional relationship with the world where we explore cultural and historical origins to generate a form of grandeur, but through the prism of the present day. Here we’re seeing lots of mix and match, a tongue-in-cheek approach and a lot more inclusivity as well. In short, updating ancestral savoir faire and adapting it to today’s tastes.

Guerlain x Yves Klein

This means integrating literature on the pack or imagining a dialogue between the work of great artists as illustrated by Guerlain x Yves Klein for Guerlain x Maison Matisse. The pack becomes a vector to create a dialog between the ages, forgoing classical references of time by mixing up artistic approaches.

Guerlain x Maison Matisse

This results in something that is quite expressionistic with a cultural mix and match that severs the frontier between good and bad taste. This is where we can play with lots of different motifs as with Dries Van Noten’s beauty collection or with a variety of fonts to tell a story. The idea is to insert products into a very rich and charged décor or background; it’s lively and offers a lot of references.

Hi Studio for Verbena Gratitud
Max Löffler - Engel

Trend #3: Recreative Rejuvenation

This trend is based on the idea that in the luxury space things are being challenged, notably by the younger generations. Here it’s about finding our way back to the joys of creation in an impulsive, spontaneous, and almost child-like manner.

Jesse Chamberlin Marble for Gorman

This trend was amplified by the lockdown and everything that came in its wake: the DIY trend, but also a lingering sense of nostalgia, the comfort and freedom of childhood and a child’s ability to create things with immediate surroundings. The act of transforming ordinary things into extraordinary things, of creating art with very everyday elements.

Love Creative - SK-II

Packaging-wise this translates into highly playful environments where texture has become a focal point, where scale is used in surprising ways, or where packs can double as toys and even be collected. Yet there are messages behind this playfulness: inclusivity, body positivity, self-confidence, mental wellness, and other issues that are closely linked to today’s culture.


This playful vintage nostalgia goes well beyond the gimmick aspect to bring a meaning to every single color, thus offering the individual the opportunity to express his or her expectations. There’s also the idea of the urgency of creation here, where the pack is the creative medium.

Studio Size for VK Winery & Gallery

Trend #4: Techo Trends

The last theme calls on our quest for heroes and for thrills through performance and adrenaline. A highly charged environment driven by a post-pandemic sense of hedonism, it’s where we reach out to more tech-like environments, but once again tech isn’t the goal, but a means to communicate a message.

r.e.m. beauty


Aggression combines with vulnerability and a touch of youthful rebellion. This is where the “conscious daredevil” takes on an “aerodynamic and cybernetic aesthetic”.

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