Behind the Packaging: An Interview with Toby Harper – Structural Design

We are excited to introduce you to another design professional for our “Behind the Packaging” Blog series. Today we speak to Toby Harper who is a member of our Structural Design team, Corrugated & Industrial Packaging Division at the GIC Location. Like Vivian Tam from our previous blog, Toby has been with GLBC for one year. Overall Toby has been a Structural Packaging Designer for 11 Years.

Behind the Packaging - Toby Harper - Structural Design
Behind the Packaging – Toby Harper – Structural Design

Why did you choose a career in design?

My whole life I’ve been interested in Art and Architecture, so after graduating high school, I worked as a carpenter in construction for 5 years. I then attended BCIT and received my certificate for Civil/Structural Drafting. For the next 10 years I was a Structural / Architectural Designer for a Signage Company located in Delta, B.C.  In 2009, I was searching for a job with a company that was design-forward and happened to see Ideon Packaging’s job post for a structural designer position – and the rest is history.

What was your most successful packaging design and why?

A display design that comes to mind is for a BBQ display / Casestacker, also a Large Truck Display for Pallets in Alberta. I am most proud of the design work I have done for various Trade Shows and the BCFB Awards throughout the years. When you give the Customers the solutions they are looking for -it always equates to successful Designs!

Behind the Packaging - Toby Harper - Structural Design - Backdrop for BCFB Awards
Behind the Packaging – Toby Harper – Structural Design – Backdrop for BCFB Awards
Behind the Packaging - Toby Harper - Structural Design - Custom Wrap Coulmns for BCFB FoodProWest
Behind the Packaging – Toby Harper – Structural Design – Custom Corrugated Wraps for Columns at BCFB FoodProWest

As a designer, what catches your eye that makes a product pop from the shelves?

Colourful graphics that showcases different skus of a product & Simplicity and function of the Design.

What brands or design products do you admire the most?

Vans – Style is amazing. How their branding has stayed on course all these years.

Apple – Enjoy their simplistic packaging and the use of protective packaging.

Santa Cruz Bicycles – The engineering and style together works – Truly works of art!

Where do you get your packaging design inspiration from?

Experience – I’ve seen a lot and have done things through trial and error. I have a good sense whether or not something may or may not work.

I also get inspiration from my imagination, products I’ve seen or are trending, my colleagues/peers.

How do you approach a new project?

I like to be stringent and have a process so I usually go through the motions that way.

I gather as much information as I can, create samples, and have conversations with the team to see if I’m on the right path. I’m very tactile so I tend to break things apart and rebuild in another way so I can execute the product as best as I can.

What do you like most about your job?

I love creating, so having nothing and producing something great is what I most enjoy about my job.

What advice would you give yourself 5 years ago regarding packaging design?

That this can be challenging mentally as you will have to adapt with many personas. Try to not take things personally and to let it go!

What were your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges is gathering all the information to make sure the project succeeds. Communication is definitely key as we have multiple people to touch base with and have everything in order. Also, time can be an issue, so learning how to juggle multiple projects at a time – it’s important to balance that out.

What is the most fun part of your job/working at GLBC?

Getting to create every day and working with all the Great people from BOTH GLBC and Ideon. It’s been a challenging BUT very rewarding year-I’m looking forward to the future!

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