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Stay on top of the latest trends with the best packaging designs of 2021

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We’re certainly not short of new trends in creativity as we approach the new year. But now more than ever, as the world turns more sustainable by the minute, packaging is here to impress, innovate and surprise both end consumers and professionals in the industry. So what are the best packaging designs of the past 12 months?

One only needs to take a quick look around to see that this has been a great year for packaging. With sustainability and ease of disposal taking the centre stage, we’re about to enter a year in which the industry attempts to be more disposable than ever – and hopefully, new technologies will allow for ever more interesting packaging design solutions.

If you’re looking to stay on top of the latest trends in the scene, keep scrolling to learn more about all the best packaging designs of this year!

The most inspiring packaging designs of 2021

From stunning illustrations to optical illusions and full-on futuristic packs, the best packaging of 2021 contains a blend of some of the loudest wins from this year’s Annual 2021 and a few more pieces of work from the rest of the industry.

Here’s all the best examples of packaging design from the past year!

Mari Marinera - Dia Retail España

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A stunning Silver award in The Annual 2021, the packaging for Mari Marinera is stunning in every single one of its elements, from the thoughtful typography to the illustrations linking back to the history of the brand and the folklore of the sea. Who knew tuna packaging could be this beautiful?

Collective Arts Brewing: Origin of Darkness - Pedro Correa

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I may be biased here, but I love my daily slice of Lovecraftian horrors. With this gorgeous series of cans, Pedro Correa has achieved the impossible: to capture the unfathomable essence of elder gods and cosmic horror with an impeccable style of illustration. The more you look at these cans, the more details you’ll find. And are you really staring at those eyes, or are they staring back into you?

Lay’s Spring LTO - PepsiCo Design & Innovation

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Of the numerous brilliant entries from PepsiCo in The Annual 2021, Lay’s Spring LTO is certainly one of the most delicate and evocative. Merging the delicacy of Chinese ingredients with mild pastel colours and experimental products, these packs capture the spirit of the East and would easily stand out on a shelf. Shame we may never see them around here!

Optasia Vodka - Studio Dolphins

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Optasia is Greek for an illusion, something that cannot be found in reality yet can be imagined and made believable by sheer imagination. Fantasy, in a way – ‘fantastic’ in another. With their packaging featuring mind-blowing optical illusions, Studio Dolphins set out to position Optasia Vodka as just that: a fantastic product with a visionary approach to packaging.

Rockstar Energy Redesign - PepsiCo Design & Innovation

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Another round, another brilliant PepsiCo packaging design from Annual 2021. The Rockstar Energy Redesignmakes full use of the iconic star from the Rockstar brand to create a packaging that feels mature, unique and premium yet playful, with the star dominating the pack and perfectly matching with adjacent cans. 

Saga Grand Gin - Paprika Design

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One of the biggest given rules of design is that a viewer’s gaze will always run to meet the eyes of a person in any photograph. That is the focal point of a drawing, an illustration, a picture, a shot in a film – anything featuring a person. So what happens when you remove the eyes from a portrait?

Every Saga Grand Gin bottle perpetuates the memory of the deported Acadians and pays tribute to the pioneers of New Acadia. This ‘saga’ plays with the secret identity of its protagonists, evoking a sense of mystery that pervades every bottle. And the overall format mimics vintage newspapers, making for a blend of modern and retro design.

Tom Parker Creamery Rebrand - White Bear Studio

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Hard to find anything more adorable than the Tom Parker Creamery Rebrand in this list. Supporting Tom Parker Creamery’s mission to disrupt dairy with free range, natural and sustainably packaged products, White Bear Studio secured two Bronzes and two People’s Choice in this year’s Annual 2021, crafting bottles of Tom Parker Milk with a ‘Happy Cow’ silhouette at the forefront. Inside the silhouette, an illustration depicting a beautiful landscape helps suggest the peaceful life that the Tom Parker milks lead.

Optimal Home Packaging - Yaroslav Cherkunov

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Simple, elegant, unique. The Optimal Home line by Yaroslav Cherkunov carries all the most beautiful features of a minimalist packaging rebrand, with nothing but extremely simple shapes featuring on every pack, and an essential description of what each sprayer bottle is useful for. You really need nothing else – be it colours, more geometrical shapes or instructions. Just a plain, black and white label with everything you need to get going straight away. An approach that never gets old.

The Prescription Paper Pill Bottle - Scott Carlton (Saatchi & Saatchi New York)

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Plastic pill bottles cannot be recycled. With billions ending up in landfills and dumps every year, every plastic pill bottle becomes toxic waste which adds to the climate crisis. So, very simply, Scott Carlton and his team at Saatchi & Saatchi New York introduced a paper pill bottle – no plastic, artificial glue or coatings, and most importantly no toxic dye. A basic, square paper bottle which is good for the planet in every single aspect, and 100% compostable. With a Bronze award in The Annual 2021, this is the type of revolution we want to see in packaging.

Bebo Shampoo Packaging - Monica Bhyrappa

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A playful shampoo bottle which double-acts as a toy for toddlers of age 1-6. It really doesn’t get any better than this. The Bebo Shampoo Bottle may be nothing more than an extremely creative project – but it’s so beautiful it must make it in the list for one of the best packaging ideas of 2021. Inspired by endangered animals and crafted to be completely safe for toddlers, every bottle is really a stylised animal toy designed with gentle colours and playful design (including a rattle toy in a giraffe’s neck), which can be reused by the toddler as soon as the bottle is emptied.

Double Gin - KIND

While this packaging design is technically from very late 2020, you’ll forgive me for including such marvellous craftsmanship in this year’s best packaging works. KIND is always on top of their game when it comes to packaging design, and this Double Gin for Bareksten Spirits is simply out of this world – which well justifies the Bronze won at The Annual 2021. The bottle is surrounded by silk print forest landscapes to evoke the raw material origin and refraction in the clear glass gives the forest a three-dimensional effect, while still preserving the premium feel.

6 Faces Hachez Chocolate Package - Qiyuan Xiao

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Luxurious, classy and incredibly refined, the 6 Faces Hachez Chocolate package is unlike most chocolate packaging you will have seen in 2021. Masterful work by Qiyuan Xiao combining delicate monochrome illustration with a gold wrapping for the chocolate bar, this pack is simple and extravagant at the same time, creating a unique experience for all kinds of chocolate lovers.

Nylo Brand & Packaging Design - Wedge Studio

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Few things feel as summery and fresh as this lovely design from Wedge Studio for the Nylo brand. Inspired by warm summer nights and light free flavour, the Nylo packaging design draws inspiration from the award-winning 2017 film ‘Call Me By Your Name’, set in the Italian countryside. The soft colour palette makes for simply beautiful cans which would go well under any beach umbrella in absolutely any beach bag.

Faithful to Nature - Jo Cutri Studio

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Lastly, we wrap up this wonderful roundup of the best packaging designs of 2021 with a splendid range from Jo Cutri Studio. With 100% compostable cartons, printed using vegetable based ink on cardboard from sustainably managed forests, the Faithful to Nature range is all about sustainability and uniqueness. Pairing healthy snacks with bright colours and beautiful abstract illustrations, this range is easily one of the best of the year, showing the great creativity and quality consistency of the Jo Cutri Studio team even when dealing with something as hard to tackle as painstakingly simple ingredients to show on a pack. Brilliant in every part.

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