The following announcement and interview were originally featured in an email from the Paperboard Packaging Alliance.
Meet Cameron Fasola, packaging engineer at Fitbit and the Paperboard Packaging Alliance’s second guest judge for the 2017 Student Design Challenge.
Cameron graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and packaging. His exceptional student career included a successful internship with Amazon Lab 126 and recognition as the Cal Poly Packaging Program’s Outstanding Student of the Year. Since graduation, Cameron has been working as a packaging engineer at Fitbit in San Francisco, California. At Fitbit, he has launched 17 different stock keeping units for eight separate products, with more on the way!
Join us as Cameron talks about how he got involved in paperboard packaging design and what he thinks makes a good paperboard package.
PPA: What attracted you to the paperboard packaging industry?
CF: I fell into the Packaging Program at Cal Poly by accident. I did not enjoy my business classes and wanted the opportunity to get my hands dirty. My friend showed me his Industrial Technology and Packaging labs. Within a day I was filing for a change of major and I haven’t looked back since. One of the aspects I love most about the paperboard packaging industry is the versatility of what I get to work on every day. Some days, I am an engineer who gets to test and break things; others, I am working with Industrial Design and marketing to create a product that sells itself on the shelf; and some, I am travelling to teach factories how to make my designs a reality.
PPA: What does your typical work day look like?
CF: My day always starts with a big breakfast. From there, I am checking emails to see what has developed overseas the night before. I usually have meetings with suppliers up until lunch. (Lunch winds up being Chipotle 90 percent of the time). After lunch, I have meetings to align with the Product Development team and then I have the rest of the day to design, ideate, test, and innovate. I like to finish the workday at the gym (we are a fitness company after all), and if I am lucky, I will have a few calls with the Asia teams before dinner.
PPA: Why do you prefer to work with paperboard?
CF: Paper is a natural material. It looks and feels high quality, it is sustainable, and it is strong. I am constantly looking for greener solutions and paper is always at the top of that list.
PPA: What stands out to you when you look at packaging?
CF: Creativity. Anyone can make a box, but a package jumps out when it integrates new geometries, creative unboxing mechanisms, and interesting consumer interactions.
PPA: What is your favorite package you designed for a product and why?
CF: I just made a new mechanism on an upcoming Fitbit accessory that eliminates glue. The old design entailed gluing trays into a rigid box. This new one entails tabs on the tray that lock into a cutout in the rigid box. It won’t be noticed by 99 percent of customers, but I have been geeking out over it for months.
PPA: What do you hope to see from this year’s Student Design Challenge entries?
CF: Something new! I love seeing a solution to a problem that I never would have thought of. Truly successful packaging is all about an enjoyable, seamless customer interaction.
PPA: What do you hope to see in the future of paperboard packaging? And what are the most essential skills new designers need to bring into the industry?
CF: Adopting the natural look of paper. Too many companies want something that is natural and sustainable but also looks homogenous and perfect. As a natural substance, paper will always be “flawed.” I hope to see designers and companies embrace paper’s texture and imperfections – that is part of the fun!