Design Within Reach | Brand Strategy, Narrative Development, Packaging Design
Design Within Reach (DWR) has the legacy of being the first American retailer of authentic modern design, carrying everything from Eames to Le Corbusier. Rarely, however, is DWR recognized as a manufacturer of modern design, despite 20 years of developing and manufacturing products the company felt were lacking in its product mix. As DWR was approaching its 20th anniversary, Language Dept. was enlisted to bring their product development and private label story forward, moving DWR-manufactured products beyond “house brand status” to truly celebrate designer collaborations through shifted narrative, art direction, and brand packaging.
My role in this project involved brand strategy, narrative development, and proof of strategy concept through redesign of product packaging.
In the process of fine tuning DWR’s consumer messaging surrounding their Product Development (PD) collaborations, we focused our attention on product packaging. We audited their packaging and found that DWR’s branding was often lost in the chaos of the hundreds of brands they sold. Beyond that, we noticed that DWR-manufactured products did not stand out amongst the other products sold. Seeing that all DWR products are purchased in store/online and then shipped to the customers at a later date, their packaging was an important opportunity for brand awareness and storytelling.
Once we established the positioning of DWR PD, we developed packaging tenets that all future PD packaging will adhere to. We believe that the packaging of the product is an extension of the product itself; it's also an opportunity to tell the story of the collaboration between DWR and the product designer, and to reinforce brand values. For proof of concept, we redesigned the structure and consumer messaging on one of DWR’s most popular products, the Story Bookcase. The redesign of the packaging was two-fold: to bring the story of the product forward and to create a functional packaging structure to house the product.
After a few prototype iterations, we passed over the design files to DWR to bring the new packaging to life. Below is the final result of our research, strategy, and redesign of their product development packaging.
Our packaging system is currently being implemented across all of DWR-authored products, as seen here with their Sonno Mattress packaging. Beyond that, we developed on-product branding so that once the packaging is removed, there is still a mark of the designer and DWR collaboration. Below are examples of how on-product branding continues to tell the story of DWR product development.