IPL Perspectives - Banner - Karen Groenewald - Patrick Leclezio

IPL Perspectives:

Karen Groenewald & Patrick Leclezio

In our most recent IPL Perspectives feature, we spoke with Karen Groenewald and Patrick Leclezio.

Karen works within our design department as a Senior Packaging Designer, while Pat heads up the Product Development and Innovation for IPL Packaging in the UK.

This month’s feature focused on the various challenges when it comes to aspirations and implementations – something our design and NPD teams need to work closely together on to ensure seamless execution. We asked Karen and Pat to share their unique perspectives on the below question, relating to their job role:

What are some of the challenges you face in ‘matching’ a client’s design aspirations to practical implementation?

Read their responses below.

Karen Groenewald | Senior Packaging Designer

The design of luxury packaging needs to pay homage to the prestige of the contents, with painstaking attention to detail and refined elements – the visual hallmarks of luxury. The challenge for myself and others, as packaging designers, is therefore to ensure that the final product successfully upholds and enhances the brand messaging and identity, creating desire, portraying quality and prestige and ensuring continuity and cohesion in brand messaging. Functionality should also be considered, down to the ease and elegance of handling or opening of each package.

A further consideration is that, with the exponential growth in social media and e-commerce activity, we’ve seen an increased focus on the ‘unboxing experience’ of luxury goods. For many brands, consumers expect a sensory feast that engages their senses and ‘closes the gap’ between online shopping and the tactile enjoyment associated with the physical or in-store experience. In these instances, where excellent packaging is memorable, worthy of special gifts, and tempting to share on an individual’s social networks, one of our main challenges will always be to create an experience of anticipation and discovery, a ‘unique personal journey’ as each feature is revealed.

A significant challenge we face as designers is marrying the above objectives with the strong push to environmentally friendly packaging. Sustainable practices and materials are also no longer optional. Eco-conscious shoppers expect the reduction or eradication of extraneous materials and the use of more environmentally sound materials, in conjunction with high style and attention to detail.

This is an exciting and challenging area for us in packaging design especially as new materials and eco-innovations are unveiled, and as our knowledge and understanding of new materials and supplier capabilities are expanded.

In some instances, sustainable packaging alternatives are not yet as cost-efficient as the more traditional materials and production practices and in other areas it is difficult to achieve the same luxury cues whilst being completely sustainable. Really understanding the client’s brief and objectives becomes critical. Most times it is not an ‘all or nothing’ scenario but rather understanding finding the ‘sweet spot’ that will deliver the best outcome for the client.

In some instances, the challenge is actually not only to reduce the amount of packaging (and therefore waste), but also to make what you do use as luxurious and reusable as possible. This often entails looking at other ways that the packaging can have a secondary life, not simply as a vessel to carry the products or to display the product. Our aim as designers must be to try to minimise any costs through clever design and material usage, production efficiency and the utilisation of improved supply chain solutions.

Patrick Leclezio | Head of Product Development and Innovation

I find that these challenges for the most part fall into one of three categories:

Firstly, a client’s packaging aspirations may have been inspired by designs with inherent manufacturing problems, which would then need to be overcome, worst case at the expense of an element dear to the client. Ideally we would be given the opportunity to guide and influence the design process, as we would do when working with our own Design Team, to mitigate against such problems arising, but this is not consistently likely.

Secondly, and often related to the first point, the design or materials specified are not feasible at the budget available to the client, or within their time-frame. This would typically require “value-engineering” solutions, or other workable alternatives, to be developed and proposed to resolve the impasse. The best result would be to arrive at a satisfactory outcome without compromising on any critical elements, but typically a sacrifice of some sort has to be considered.

Thirdly, a ‘value-add’ is expected, which in recent times has been mostly focused on making a design more eco-friendly and enabling clients to progress their sustainability goals. This challenge at its core requires solutions that maintain the same performance standards without adding material cost.

In each case the set of skills that we, as an NPD team, look to bring is to surmount these challenges without detracting from the spirit of the design, or by improving on the design.



Each month we ask our “Perspectives” features a few questions to provide you with a little more context and insight into their job roles as well as themselves.


I look to understand our clients’ brand DNA and their unique packaging design requirements. This requires in-depth research, ideation, conceptual design and development. Once a particular direction has been established, every fine detail of the design is placed under the lens. The final step is the creation of the final artwork for production.

In addition to this, I always look to share interesting packaging, design & innovation news and insights with the marketing and sales teams in a bid to inspire creativity and encourage innovation.

First, I check that the snooze function on my phone is still working 😉 Coffee helps me get going with the rest!

I prefer working from home. I find it easier to focus and creatively ‘zone in’ when I’m in my own space.

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Karen B&W2
Pat B&W


I am the Head of Product Development and Innovations, in addition, I manage with Neil Macaulay, our UK Director, the day-to-day operations of our European business, my focus being the supply side of things.

I dedicate the first portion of my day to engaging with our team in China. At 8am in Cape Town it’s 2pm in Guangzhou, so there’s a limited window of time to deal with pressing matters.

I have no real preference. I’ve become accustomed, over time, to working from a laptop from a variety of locations – from airports, aircraft, hotel rooms, cars during the long commutes to factories, from various offices, and from home. The transition to working remotely, and then to a blended format during the pandemic, has been fairly seamless for me as I’ve been doing this, in one way or another, for many years.

To play an instrument or to learn to dance well, neither of which I have any great aptitude for. I guess this will make it even more satisfying if I get there!

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