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Puglia

Discovering an Italian destination one sensory experience at a time

Located on the heel of the boot in southern Italy, Puglia is a beautiful region known for its vast turquoise-blue coastline, untouched architecture, and vibrant arts & culture. The local economy relies on tourism, welcoming travelers from all over the world throughout the year. In collaboration with the Quabb creative agency, Zenpack created an advent calendar-style package filled with products unique to the Puglia region.

The Problem

After the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Puglia media department was searching for a way to reintroduce the region to the world. They needed something that would capture the aromas, flavors, and culture Puglia is known for. A dynamic media campaign can go far, but there’s nothing like experiencing a taste of what Puglia has to offer.

The Outcome

Working with the Puglia Regional Tourism Board and the Quabb creative agency, we designed a rigid box that opens to a mini sensory journey along the windswept Mediterranean coast. The packages contain five days of Puglia products: an aroma decanter for Monday, olive oil and candle for Tuesday, wine for Wednesday, pasta for Thursday, and ceramics for Friday. Recipients learn about the history and origin of each product via a preloaded tablet screen included in the box. Sent to media outlets all over the world, A Week in Puglia successfully reminded travelers why Italy’s hidden gem is so special.

Challenges

With five days’ worth of products, each at different weights and levels of fragility, our main challenge was designing sturdy yet elegant structures. Advent calendar-style packages offer the opportunity for multiple moments of surprise, but the contents are usually small and light. Some of the Puglia products are heavy and filled with liquid while others are delicate, like pasta and ceramics. Since these products were traveling the world, the packages would require multiple rounds of rapid prototyping and ISTA testing.

In addition to the normal regulations associated with shipping food and fragile items, the Italian government would have a major voice in the process. The Puglia tourism department chose the products carefully, ensuring they would present the region in its best light.

Everything would need to go through multiple approvals, from the product copy printed on the packaging to the content uploaded to the video screen. Boxes within boxes result in multiple printable and digital surfaces—each word had to be perfect.

While the products themselves create a multi-sensory experience, we wanted the packaging and graphic design to complete the journey. Each package would serve as a canvas for Italian artist Simone Lacono. Her goal was to combine the products with the creativity Puglia is known for. In every packaging project, balancing protection and visual presentation can be challenging. A Week in Puglia would prove to be more complex than normal, requiring a cohesive graphic design system to complete the narrative.

Solution

The final 7-structure packaging, A Week in Puglia, is just a few steps away from an actual vacation to the Mediterranean coast. The packaging introduces the journey with an embedded video tablet leading the audience into the graphic scenery of the week. Each item is contained in a specially structured package with a unique unboxing experience. Simone Lacono’s abstract topographical landscapes span each surface as guests wander from one Puglia delight to the next.

After initial concepts, we needed the products in hand to complete the structural design and testing. Working with the Italian government, customs agencies across the globe, Puglia tourism, and our Quabb creative partners, we coordinated the delivery to our rapid prototyping studio in California. Corrugated cardboard was the most versatile and durable material for protecting the wide range of products.

Sustainable and plentiful, corrugate lends itself to inexpensive rapid prototyping, and eventually the final packaging structures. We engineered five structures for the advent-calendar packages, a paper-wrapped LCD tablet with charging port, and a rigid box outer structure.

Creating an advent calendar structure for such large objects was challenging; we wanted to conceal the surprise while making sure each box was easy to unwrap when the day comes. A 4-sided sleeve was our best solution as it allows for crisp, vibrant printing while maintaining the weeklong, 5-senses journey theme. On the opposite side of the sleeve, we printed product stories and special instructions such as the proper olive oil tasting technique. With every layer, the structural and graphic design come together for a prolonged and satisfying unboxing experience.

Result

A Week in Puglia was sent to travel blogs, magazines, and media outlets such as Conde Nast and The New York Times. During an uncertain period of global lockdown, the kit was a welcome surprise for an industry that relies on experiencing the most fascinating destinations. It reminded travelers of—and introduced future first-time visitors to—one of Italy’s most enchanting regions.

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