Packaging Design


(3 Months)


Research, Ideation, Visuals, Branding, Packaging Design


Zachery Eng


Sketch, Illustrator, Photoshop, Laser Cutter, Vinyl Machine, Heat Press, Camera

Design Challenge

How might I create a packaging that is not only protective, functional, but also repurposable?


Wabi Cha - 侘び茶, is a new tea supplier and variety store that specializes cultivating and exposing Japanese tea products. They design and prepare tea items for all travelers and tea lovers alike.

In tandem Wabicha’s packaging looks at how a traditional box can be repurposed into meaningful experience that can be transferred across multiple uses. The package addresses the need to design with intentions of reusability and functionality—thus promoting sustainability and ultimately reducing unnecessary waste.

Initial Research

Before I started thinking about anything about the packaging, I first wanted to understand what I was design for. What exactly is this product? Where did it come from? and what is the history behind it? As it was also from a different culture, I wanted to make sure that I avoided anything that could be consider offensive or go against what they believe. Here are 3 main snippits of my findings that greatly influenced the flow of my design decisions.

  • Wabi-sabi

    In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi (侘寂) is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. ( Mistakes are welcomed )

  • Tatami matt

    Tatami mats can be laid out in auspicious and inauspicious arrangements. While a wedding or other celebration might be recognized by a more complicated alternating arrangement of mats, an inauspicious arrangement would be used for a funeral. ( When placing matts together, they should not make a visual cross were the matts intersection )

  • Mon

    Mon (紋), also monshō (紋章), mondokoro (紋所), and kamon (家紋),are Japnese emblems used to decorate and identify an individual, a family, or (more recently) an institution or business entity.


After getting a better idea of what I was designing for, I wanted explore what kind of packaging already exists in the world. Observing how cultures, location and upbringing can influence and inspire different approaches towards packaging—through different techniques, methods and approaches. Here are some visual research that I found:

Packaging Board
Japanese Packaging Board

In summary, I wanted to capture the minimal and clean aesthetic of Japanese design. The aspect of natural, organic as well as clean.

Conceptual Sketches

Through compiling my inspiration—obtained from my cultural/historical exploration, and combining it with different techniques and methods that I came across while doing my research, I started to conceptualize and sketch out as many forms of containers that would keep its content safe. Although they are not all practical, I wanted to keep my mind open to different possibilities.

Physical Prototypes

Various of prototypes were made in the process to test out if the functionality of the container would actually work. In conjunction, I wanted to tested out various of material to see what would be sustainable and suitable to protect its content. Through this process, I learned that there was a lot of flaws and variables which I didn't considered, which resulted in me going to the drawing board multiple of times.

Brand Development

While I was conducting my visual research, I was very interested in the idea of handwritten characters. Although I have no experiences nor skills in this, I still wanted to explore this route. 

At first, a lot of my digital work was turning out quiet and geometric. When I first showed a group of my friends my designs, they would say it had a ridged feel to it-which was not what I was trying to go for.

Typography Styling

In order to move forward, I asked a few of my friends to help me visualize some characters with a calligraphy brush—as I am not familiar with writing kanji characters. This resulted in more fluid strokes and expressive characters.

To push this concept, I wanted to personally explore other methods and options that I could try. This resulted in me playing with different types of brushes, tapes, sponges, bubble wrap, etc. Although it was not all useful, I discovered interesting patterns and textures that I could have possibly incorporated. These explorations were further explored and refined in illustrator afterwards.

Illustration styling

Once the styling was established, illustrations were made to help complement and guide users through the instructions.

Final Product

Instruction manual

On the front of the manual, simplified instructions of how to make matcha is displayed. Accompanied by illustrations and instruction in both English and Japanese for dual language reading. On the reverse side, illustrations of the tools are displayed with a small explanation of what they are for.

As this is a beginners packaging, the instruction is simplified by a fair bit in comparison to a normal set up for a tea ceremony, this set is just to introduce westerns to the culture. If they find it to their liking, they can further pursue their time into doing more research.

  • Tea scoop (chashaku 茶杓)

    They are used to scoop tea from the tea caddy into the tea bowl.

  • Tea bowl (chawan 茶碗)

    The most essential implement; without these, tea could not be served or drunk at all. Tea bowls are available in a wide range of sizes and styles, and different styles are used for thick and thin tea.

  • Whisk (chasen 茶筅)

    Tea whisks are carved from a single piece of bamboo. There are thick and thin whisks for thick and thin tea. It is made of bamboo which stirs and bubbles and kneads.

  • Shelves (Tana たな)

    Tana, literally "shelves," is a general word that refers to all types of wooden or bamboo furniture used in the preparation of tea.

  • Cloth (Chakin 茶巾)

    A rectangular, white, linen or hemp cloth used for the ritual cleansing of the tea bowl. Different styles are used for thick and thin tea.

  • Green Tea (Matcha 抹茶)

    Matcha is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves.


With Wabichas no adhesive packaging, it can be disassemble and repurposed within seconds.