Will packaging designers soon be superfluous? At least that’s the impression you might get if you take a closer look at “Spring”, the new AI-based tool from British technology start-up “Sourceful”. Based on prompts and specific questions about the brand and desired packaging, it is designed to automatically generate a set of possible packaging designs in a matter of minutes.
Sourceful is a start-up founded in Manchester in 2020 by Wing Yung Chan and Sharon Chan that specializes in the configuration of sustainable packaging solutions. On the platform of the same name, packaging can be created individually and with a focus on the carbon footprint. As the company explains on its website, this is displayed in real time depending on the selected configuration and taking into account the entire life cycle of a product – from material sourcing, production and transportation through to disposal. The aim is to raise customers’ awareness of the sustainability of their chosen packaging and strengthen the trend towards more sustainable packaging overall.
According to the founders, they rely on a network of packaging manufacturers to produce the packaging. However, the packaging configured and produced in this way can currently only be delivered in the UK. Nevertheless, it is interesting to take a look at the platform – especially as the company introduced yet another interesting AI tool a few weeks ago.
It is called “Spring” – and at first glance, packaging designers in particular might find it a bitter pill to swallow. The digital service is designed to automatically generate packaging designs in just a few minutes based on prompts and specific questions. What’s more, using the tool is – at least to all appearances – free of charge, apart from the fact that you have to provide your e-mail address for Sourceful to contact you later. A clever move by the company, but one that can be ” deactivated” as you can of course withdraw your consent at any time.
Text-based prompts as the basis
But back to the actual service. It starts with a simple query: what product should be packaged, what is the name of the brand, what type of packaging should be designed? Spring then asks the user to use various adjectives to describe how the brand sees itself, such as luxurious, classic, fun or “edgy”, and which brand colors the brand has used to date. Based on this information, various packaging designs are automatically generated and sent to the customer by email via a retrieval link. In the case of my text, there were nine different packaging designs, which arrived in my e-mail inbox after only two minutes. Once the initial design ideas have been selected, they can also be “remixed” if required – similar to the designs that Sourceful already displays as “best practices” on its own website as a kind of showcase. Sharing with friends or project participants is also possible.
Even AI still has its limits
The designs created by the AI look appealing at first glance – but on closer inspection, the text-based design elements alone show that there are still limits to what the AI can do. However, Sourceful also points this out – and offers users corresponding consulting sessions for the actual implementation of the design. Either way, the AI tool and the designs generated with it are – at least so far – “only” a first step towards real packaging and a clever method of getting in touch with potential customers.
According to the British start-up, these are primarily small companies and start-ups that know little or nothing about packaging.
In the test, a chocolate wrapper was required, luxurious yet natural.
My Take: Yes, you can argue that the AI-generated packaging designs lack “soul” or sophistication. You can also criticize the – let’s say – interesting presentation of text elements. But why am I writing about it if it’s not yet perfect? Quite simply, because you have to keep an eye on tools like this and learn from them. Because AI is here – and it’s not going away. Instead, it will continue to develop and get better and better. So you should get to grips with it early on! “Spring” already shows the direction in which the use of AI in the printing and packaging industry can go – and I am sure that there will be many more such services. The idea of using an AI tool like this to acquire customers is also clever.