Critical Study in Art & Design



‘Conduct extensive research on your identified topic to include a broad range of souces and appropriate research methodologies. Your field is the historical evolution and visual characteristics of the work of artists and designers or of artistic phenomena’ – BTEC Brief, Critical Study in Art and Design.


An article I initially found about packaging design:

As one of the most widely used forms of three dimensional applications of graphic design, packaging serves as one of the most influential forms of communication with consumers since it provides a first hand experience for individuals. Because of the numerous and varied quantities of consumer based products that are produced in modern society it has one of the widest range of applications of all the forms of graphic design. Millions of different products require unique and individual packaging to set themselves apart from the competition when they reach their retail destinations.

The never-ending creation of new products provides designers with the materials and necessity to produce new and different package designs that utilize a variety of constantly evolving production techniques and materials. Products can be packaged in paper, cardboard, plastic, rubber or even metal, among other things. This requires not only a variety of production process but also printing techniques in order to create and apply the aesthetics of the branding for the individual product or line of products. This never-ending list of possible production techniques requires product designers to be well versed in typography, color and three-dimensional design to ensure that their package designs are unique in every aspect. [accessed on 25-10-16]

-Topic Ideas for Thesis-

The topic I chose for my thesis was Packaging, as I could link this with my own work that I’ve created and it is a topic that I am interested in.

Idea 1:

My first proposal was Brand Development and how packaging works as part of this. I would do a case study on the work of Louise Filli and carefully look at each element that goes into the design of packaging and how it’s presented. This would also involve textual analysis on three pieces of her work and looking at the history of packaging design.

Link to initial proposal:


Idea 2:

I changed the above idea slightly around, keeping the topic but doing a case study on Pemberton & Whitefoord (P&W) a design consultancy instead that offer branding and packaging, the topic I was writing about. After writing short paragraphs on each section that I wanted to cover, I soon realised that there was absolutely no structure to it, instead I seemed to be just trying to cover to much in one thesis.

Link to proposal for this idea and a draft: avaCJVNhvqZCA0MlyuFqUDEDOUAn8fWb8jjE4/edit


Idea 3:

The above was too broad and covered a multitude of things (branding and packaging) but would be hard to narrow down to specific information to write about in each chapter. I still wanted to keep the topic on ‘Packaging Design’ and scanned through different ideas that I could relate to with this topic. I decided to go with looking specifically at typography in packaging and how its used to aid the overall design. Typography is another area of design that I was interested so I thought that this was a great combination to fuse the two of them together.

Link to the chapter layout for this idea:


Idea 4:

Again I seemed to have picked a topic to broad with lots to write about but not enough room to write all the information as the word count for this thesis was 4000 words. I still had a strong desire to keep the topic of packaging design and I began to search the internet on all things packaging design related. I suddenly came across this article that The Irish Times had been published a couple of months ago [accessed 3 January 2017].

After reading this article about the new legislation being brought into Ireland for cigarette packaging, I was really intrigued with this issue and wanted to learn and read more about it. So I decided since this current issue is related to cigarette packaging design, I thought I could link my topic in with it and I chose this as my final idea for my thesis.


The topic I have chosen for my thesis is on the issue of plain cigarette packaging. I will link this to my own work were I have created packaging designs and compare the difference or similarities.

Aims and Objectives: 

  • To discover the evolution of cigarette packaging, what brands have done of the years to their packs and brands noticed.
  • To get a better understanding of the new legislation for plain ‘standardised’ packaging and what different perspectives there is on this issue from different sources
  • To understand the aesthetics of the design and why certain designs were chosen and what they wanted to achieved with them.


Literature review – reading and gathering information from books and articles to help aid my topic and the content.

Data analysis – analysing information from relevant sources

Primary Research – this will consist of a survey conducted amongst smokers and their views towards the issue


Chapter Breakdown:

Chapter 1 – To properly understand this idea, a history of this type of packaging is required. This chapter will consist of an introduction into cigarette packaging giving the reader a summary of the history of it and how it has evolved over the years. I will reference to iconic cigarette brands and their campaigns to promote their cigarettes and packaging. This chapter will also give me an idea of how this type of packaging came about and the ways in which it was used to entice people to but their products.

Chapter 2 – A major part of cigarette packaging since quite early on to now has been health label warnings which warned consumers of the health implications associated with buying cigarettes and smoking them around others. This chapter will focus on health warning labels on cigarette packs and the evolution of when it first started to now, where the idea of plain packaging with more health warnings are plastered across packaging.

Chapter 3 – This issue of plain ‘standardised’ packaging affects a multitude of people ranging from consumers, designers and the tobacco and health industry. It is pretty obvious how this will affect consumers so I will briefly cover this in the chapter but I will mainly focus on how the perspective of designers + health and tobacco industry. I intend to look at how this effects each of the industries and their perspective on the issue. Also for this chapter, I will conduct a survey amongst smokers asking them a range of questions about the plain packaging and how they feel about the idea.



The first thing I done as part of my thesis was to come up with a survey that could be presented to smokers, to find out there reactions and feedback. I decided to ask a range of questions covering, the plain packaging design, current packaging design, is it effective, would it solve the issue and does the new design work.

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 08.22.14 p.m.Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 08.22.25 p.m.Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 08.22.35 p.m.



Extra Research:

This was an interesting video about plain cigarette packaging. In the video Maynard carries out research on what consumers think of plain packaging and does this by using an eye tracking method to figure out were the eye is drawn to first when looking at plain packaging as opposed to branded packaging. She mentions that non-smokers and weekly smokers took more notice of the health warnings on the plain packaging with can lead to  health knowledge and changes in behaviour but daily smokers seem to be purposely avoiding the health warnings.


This pdf let me know about some of information about health facts and warnings.


Here I read about how the tobacco industry target young people and entice them to smoke, as young people are easy to convince and will instantly change to different brands more easier than long-term smokers.


Link to my own work:

Candle Packaging:

This project was part of a personal project this year and I decided to create seasonal candle packaging using the brand ‘Avoca’. Each of the candles had a patterns and colours associated with that specific season, while also illustrating the brand/information needed on the packaging.



Butlers Chocolate Packaging:

This project was based on the concept of design packaging for Butler’s Chocolate as part of a ‘Vintage Series’. I created a bar and box design based on the Art Deco era with a modern look and feel to it. The information/brand was labelled on the front and back of both the packaging designs with a ribbon to hold them in place.


Unlike the cigarette packaging, my designs would be used to sell a product and to entice customers to buy them, but for the cigarette packs they are hoping for the complete opposite effect.



Overall, I enjoyed writing my thesis and researching my chosen topic. I got the chance to gather information and look into other ways that packaging is used and designed, other than being pretty and helping a brand market their products. Their is clearly a mixed reaction about the issue of plain ‘standardised’ cigarette packaging, which is understandable as every has their own opinion. I can’t help but think that maybe this might not be as good of an idea as the government and health organisations are hoping for. As mentioned in my thesis, this will cause the need for people to start buying their branded cigarettes illegally through the black market which won’t help the problem at all. As smoking is an addiction, I feel that smokers will either result in buying from the black market or continue to still buy the cigarettes.