Earlier today, on a trip to pay some bills and make a doctor's appointment, I somehow ended up spending £100 on a James Bond 'The Ultimate Editions 007 Attache Case.' It wasn't the 22 films across 44 discs that sprung it, but having a rather nice case to keep them all in. While I'd probably happily make do with just the Roger Moore films of my youth, packaging can still be persuasive and enticing even in a sometimes throw away world.
Last week Apple let everyone know, including Greenpeace, that they are doing their bit for the planet with a newly improved dedicated Apple website highlighting the companies environmental footprint, with facts and figures rather than hollow promises, along with a little more insight from CEO Steve Jobs via a rare Business Week interview.
Amongst a list of worthy green credentials, Apple has been highlighting a reduction in packaging. The company has reduced MacBook Pro packaging by 40 per cent since 2006, which Apple insists means 50 per cent more products can be shipped in each airline shipping container, the equivalent of using one less jumbo jet for every 32,000 units shipped.
This seems impressive, yet for me what it really means is that I'll need less space in the future to store those empty boxes. Rather than recycle, I've kept hold of all my recent Apple packaging, I just can't let it go. A Mac Pro box, which a small child could live in, sits behind the front door, a makeshift table of sorts for keys and letters, while a MacBook Air box that was a pleasure to open still has the foil that little black cloth came wrapped in. iPod packaging is too small to be of much use, yet I've kept mine, as makeshift deadweights and a place to store those white earbuds should I ever need them in an emergency.
At the weekend I unboxed a new look multi-touch Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet, which for PR reasons I'll need to keep, along with all packaging. What basically amounts to an oversized egg box within a box was still a cause to celebrate design and packaging that's worth holding onto. Part Apple minimalism, part Adobe bling, the design is aspirational and rich in colour. Two designer types peak over a graphic representation of the Bamboo pen in full flight surrounded by an array of flowers and fruit, including a possibly less than subliminal tempting red Apple.
If Apple, Wacom and others can put so much thought into the way things look, it’s normally a good sign that similar care and attention to detail will be given to the product itself. While those boxes will eventually be recycled, at least by the local councils that will take cardboard, you will, at least, be able to admire the packaging as you take them to the environmentally friendly rubbish dump.