Crimes Against Design: Clamshell Packaging

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words Justin McGuirk

How are you supposed to get into these? It's a fair assumption that the people buying a pack of five pairs of scissors would be people who don't own any scissors. So to encase them in packaging that requires scissors to ... But that's not the point. Heat-sealed clamshell packaging is one of the more irritating by-products of consumer society. It tends to come vacuum-formed around expensive little items such as disposable razors and USB sticks - things you might just want to put in your pocket while you're still in the shop. In other words, it's designed for the few - thieves - and not the many. Its very purpose is to make it difficult to get at what's inside. And even once the paying citizen has pierced a way into the package, reach in and you're likely to scrape some skin off on the edges. Clamshell packaging's other purpose is to "maximise product visibility". That's just jargon meaning that it's wastefully over-packaged.
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