You are now in the main content area

GCM students unbox first-time international win for Canada

The two Graphic Communications Management students secured the top place with their sustainable and innovative packaging design concept
November 03, 2020

Graphic Communications Management students, Dorotea Bajic and Laura Rendell-Dean, took the top spot in the Student Design Challenge hosted by the Paperboard Packaging Alliance (PPA). Dorotea and Laura’s first place win not only marks the first time Ryerson has made the top three but also represents an inaugural win for Canada.

"This win means a lot to me and it’s really crazy to think we are the first GCM students and Canadians to win this competition, especially when it means our design is going to be commercially produced,” said Laura Rendell-Jean. “Since I am in my fourth year at GCM, this competition has been an incredible way to sum up all the work that Dorotea and I have done over the last few years. GCM has provided so many opportunities and given us students so much information on how to succeed in the print and packaging industry, and this is just a small example of everything GCM is capable of."

Dorotea Bajic, fourth-year Graphic Communications Management student

Laura Rendell-Dean, fourth-year Graphic Communications Management student

"Going into this, we were just looking for a fun way to apply our skills and learn. Once we submitted our entry, it was out of our minds. We definitely weren't planning to receive an email months later telling us that we were finalists. It was an exciting moment for all of us,” said fourth-year student, Dorotea Bajic. “After three years of dreaming about working in structural packaging design and telling my friends non-stop that I'm going to be Canada's most brilliant packaging designer, this moment is monumental. The possibility is there and I'm excited to see where it takes me."

Associate Professor Natalia Lumby and Assistant Professor Jay Park, both at the School of Graphic Communications Management, lent their industry expertise as faculty advisors supporting the students in their competition entry. Joined by leading institutions and industry veterans in packaging including California Polytechnic State University and Clemson University, the Student Design Challenge is an elite international competition, well known in the packaging industry for its level of difficulty and prestige.

"I'm so incredibly proud of our team this year. In addition to creating a solution that is visually appealing and innovative, they were able to use their technical knowledge to create a package that is highly functional,” said Natalia Lumby. “For example, by creating a design that is printed only on one side and folded into itself, they were able to cut down the print production time and complexity. A true example of taking what we know, and using it to innovate. The impact of these small changes should never be underestimated from a sustainability perspective."

First Place Design

This year's challenge was to create an educational package for Trees Into Cartons, Cartons Into Trees (TICCIT), external link, an outreach and educational program for school-aged children that highlights the renewability and sustainability of paper and paperboard packaging. Developed by the Packaging Paperboard Council, the program promotes use of paperboard as a sustainable packaging material and emphasizes the importance of recycling.

“We approached this challenge with the intention to create something to promote learning and initiate a positive learning experience for the educators that would be receiving this product,” explained Dorotea and Laura on Instagram, external link. “Our idea started by taking the TICCIT logo and turning it into this three dimensional hexagon box that would include many touchpoints to suit different types of students. The package was for children aged 8-10, so hands-on learning would be key for their engagement.” 

Dorotea and Laura's winning design — a three dimensional hexagon box including touchpoints to suit different students

The design was delivered as an educational package with three games for Trees Into Cartons, Cartons Into Trees (TICCIT)

 Dorotea and Laura created the Education Crate, a ready to ship package, containing educational materials, a sampling carton dieline from TICCIT and planting instructions to enhance the educational experience for elementary students. The final design was required to promote brand recognition and the TICCIT program, as well as be commercially viable on standard machinery and highlight paperboard packaging as a preferred substrate. Their winning design gave great consideration to the unboxing experience and gamified learning about paperboard.

“We bounced ideas for educational games and crafts we could include in our design and made prototypes for mini packages that could showcase the broad applications of paperboard,” said Dorotea and Laura in a post on GCM’s Instagram page, external link. “Inside, the box contains three triangular boxes, an assembled sapling carton and an additional unassembled sampling carton. Within the three triangular boxes we have provided three unique and interactive activities that keep students learning and having fun.”

Sponsored by industry giant

In lieu of an in-person event this year, the team was invited to participate in the PPC's virtual fall conference where Dorotea and Laura were presented with their prize. This year, the School of Graphic Communications Management was sponsored by WestRock, external link, a customer-focused  industry giant in paper and corrugated packaging products committed to innovation and operational excellence. With 44 thousand employees and nearly $15 billion in revenue, WestRock joined the virtual congratulatory celebration by hosting a meeting at the end of the conference to personally congratulate the students on their winning design.

"We all face new challenges in a COVID climate. Team BRD, Doratea Bajic and Laura Rendell Dean, rose to the challenge for the TICCIT (Trees Into Cartons, Cartons Into Trees) to create an engaging and intuitive packaging solution to inspire the next generation of thinkers and makers,” said Brad Walling, Sr. Director of Design, Food and Beverage Americas at WestRock. "What impressed me the most as a Packaging Professional was their tenacity and collaborative spirit. Working as a team, in many cases across time zones AND with limited tools, Doratea and Laura created an impressive hexagonal carton that communicated a sustainability message that was both engaging and fun.”

Paperboard Packaging Alliance (PPA)

The Paperboard Packaging Alliance (PPA) is a joint initiative of the American Forest & Paper Association and the Paperboard Packaging Council. The mission is to promote the benefits of paperboard packaging and products to influence preference for these materials in packaging design and selection. The PPA is dedicated to promoting innovative paperboard packaging design and encourages post-secondary students in design, graphic arts and engineering programs to pursue careers in the paper-based packaging industry and provide tools and resources to support paperboard packaging promotional programs.

“Rather than focusing only on visually appealing or specific parts of the TICCIT packaging, the students took a holistic approach to design the package that considered structural integrity, graphics, manufacturing, user experience, and sustainability,” said Jay Park. “As a faculty advisor, I admired their teamwork and ability to overcome the many challenges and uncertainties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Innovating package design and production

The Student Design Challenge, external link is the second international packaging competition win for the School of Graphic Communications Management this year. GCM’s unique program offering teaches a variety of transferable skills sought in many fields and connects students with diverse opportunities in the printing industry in Canada and beyond. FCAD joins leading educational institutions and industry experts at the forefront of the printing industry and revolutionizes the capabilities of printed and graphic products with innovative package design and production.

FCAD at Ryerson University

Entering its eighth decade, FCAD is a global centre of media and creative invention. As a disrupter in innovative education, FCAD is dedicated to developing creators with authentic voices who engage directly with creative industries around the world.

With 23 undergraduate and graduate programs that are shaping the future of their fields and tight-knit partnerships around the world, FCAD offers more opportunities to educate the next generation of creative leaders than anywhere else.