Charles Linn
School of Architecture & Design

Students stuff it in Repack competition

Wed, 03/05/2014

LAWRENCE — Four teams from the departments of Design and Architecture recently spent a weekend participating in the 48Hour Repack competition. They had just 48 hours to come up with a better way to create prototype packaging for one of four breakfast requisites: coffee creamer, bacon, eggs, or that sticky staple, maple syrup. The Southeastern Chapter of the Institute of Packaging Professionals sponsored the event. 

The competition rules put students in the position of confronting the very same issues that any professional packaging designer would: recyclability, convenience of use, originality and performance. The teams had to create and photograph a prototype of their device, then write a statement that explains its design rationale. But it was the most challenging requirement that brought their creativity: producing a television commercial that promoted their solutions.

“What our students did extremely well was to use their videos to show how their products can establish an emotional connection between the consumer and the package. Who would have thought to turn a commercial for coffee creamer into a love story?” said acting Department of Design chair and associate professor Andrea Herstowski. “One of our teams did that.” 

“It was a hard enough challenge to conceive a solution, but to create such polished and entertaining ‘commercials’ in such a short space of time was truly impressive,” adds Huw Thomas, associate professor of industrial design.

The team of Claire Pedersen, Omaha, Neb.; Jay Livingston, Independence, Mo.; John Reynolds, Lee's Summit, Mo.; Brandon Clay, Olathe, and Hanan El Shoubaki, Overland Park, developed a drip-free, mess-free pancake syrup dispenser for their brand, Uncle John’s, that’s always ready to sweeten a stack of hotcakes. 

Two teams were challenged by those wasteful packages of single-use restaurant coffee-creamer, whose stubborn foil lids are difficult to peel back, just before their crenellated plastic cylinders collapse between the users’ fingers. 

To solve the problem, Sydney Goldstein, Overland Park; Leslie Montes, Richmond, Texas; Chloe Hosid, Plano, Texas, and Katie Whiteman, Bettendorf, Iowa, came up with “Pearl." Their invention captures creamer inside a pearlescent gelatin marble that dissolves when dropped into hot coffee. Its container dispenses on serving at a time and fits in the hand nicely. 

“Stix” came from the minds of Lori Novak, Andover; David Blizzard, Plano, Texas; Lynnasha Galbreath, Lawrence; Julia Doan, Wichita, and Perry May, St. Louis. It eliminates both the individual creamer container and the ubiquitous plastic stir-stick by combining the two into a stick that dissolves as it delivers cream into steaming cup of joe. ​

Josie Miller, Lenexa; Aliaa El Kalyoubi, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Nicholas Ostmeyer, Salina, and Jennifer Beck, Lawrence, weren’t walking on eggshells when they created Flex, a container that replaces the century-old egg carton. They created Flex, a reusable box that cradles the eggs in hammocks of elastic. Not only does this eliminate the traditional carton in favor of a reusable container, but it solves two other problems. It provides a way for shoppers to select and inspect each egg individually, but also to only buy the number of eggs they really need.

The teams will find out in April whether they have placed in the competition.    

Photographs of the students’ packages and their videos can be seen at

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