Earlier we brought you the story of how LEGO, responding to letters sent in by children, has decided to ditch the single-use plastic bags used to wrap their products. Today we get to tell you who the design firm tasked with prototyping the paper bag replacements is: RKS, the L.A.-based design consultancy founded by Xerox PARC veteran Ravi K. Sawhney.
RKS Design Researcher Meghan Preiss reached out to us with the skinny:
LEGO came to RKS, a design consultancy in the Los Angeles area, to design a sustainable packaging solution that would remove the single-use plastic bags currently utilized in their packaging system. With the legislation looking to companies to reduce their carbon footprint and their mission to have all packaging be sustainable by 2025, the plastic bag was the initial challenge that the team wanted to tackle. Given the global scale that LEGO operates at, the challenge for this initial strategic initiative was to develop a solution that maintained or enhanced the play experience and was scalable to meet global sales demand.
"This is one of my favorite projects in my career," writes Preiss, who served as Lead Design Researcher on the project. "Understanding children's behavior when it comes to playing and learning was eye-opening. We were able to disprove theories and hypotheses on whether a clear pre-pack was needed or whether the white or brown paper was preferred. By working with an incredible design and engineering team, we were able to maximize the play experience with just paper. Then to add all of the complexities of true-sustainable design, manufacturing, and business needs, this was an incredible challenge, and I am so proud of the team!"
Ben Azzam, RKS Executive Vice President, added that "When approached with sustainability challenges, it is always imperative to understand the impact that these opportunities can have on business and how that will steer the execution of new design solutions.
"Working with a beloved global brand like LEGO was inspiring for the team because it was an opportunity to create a solution that would span the globe with a positive impact. With our research efforts across the US, China, and Europe and deep understanding of the LEGO team's manufacturing capabilities, we were able to identify implementable solutions and improve the play experience across the broad age range of LEGO builders."
No, we don't have any sexy hero shots of the finished product to show you. But we're posting this because the ID firms behind even big-name companies often remain anonymous and unsung, and it's a breath of fresh air when we finally learn who they are and get to attribute some credit. ID is often a thankless field.