Can a nice-looking package make Japanese people buy meatballs? In 2007, Kristina Brink and some of her colleagues went on a study visit to Tokyo. It became the starting point of a collaboration that lasted for several years.
– At a study visit to Chiba University, we met a group of teacher who taught packaging design, which is also our profile area, says Kristina, who is the programme coordinator of the Bachelor’s programme Graphic Design and Communication in Sundsvall.
The two groups of teachers really hit it off and they discussed ideas for a collaboration. In 2008, they got started.
– We decided to collaborate on the same five-week course in packaging design in Sweden and in Japan. We created a project website, where the students could follow each other’s work and after the course was finished, there was a digital exhibition. Teachers and two students from Sweden also went to Japan to show them the physical results of the course – and teachers and students from Japan came to Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall, says Kristina.
During one of the courses, the Swedish students were given the assignment to design a package that would sell in Sweden. The Japanese students’ assignment was to design a package that would sell meatballs and mashed potatoes in Japan (they went to IKEA in Tokyo to taste the food). The assignments led to many exciting products and discussions.
– The collaboration has been exciting and rewarding for both teachers and students. Japan is famous for its packaging design and they are forerunners in innovative packaging solutions. The programme at Chiba University specializes in construction and technology, while the Graphic Design Programme at Mid Sweden University focuses on communicative packaging design. We learned a lot from each other, Kristina concludes.
In 2013, the collaboration changed into an exchange agreement between the two universities.