Envisioning the future of packaging

Structural paper folding techniques by researcher Miia Palmu. Photo: Valeria Azovskaya
Structural paper folding techniques by researcher Miia Palmu. Photo: Valeria Azovskaya

There is an urgent need for sustainable alternatives to oil-based packaging materials such as styrofoam. Emerging interdisciplinary practices in material research aim to develop novel wood-based biomaterials with similar or better properties to replace non-renewable and environmentally problematic plastics. 

The exhibition features three sustainable packaging projects: CoCeA, Fold and Sustain and Pack-Age.


CoCea & Fold and Sustain packaging prototypes. Photo: Anastasia Ivanova
CoCea & Fold and Sustain packaging prototypes. Photo: Anastasia Ivanova

CoCeA: Lightweight biomaterials

CoCeA's project combines design thinking with the scientific research process to obtain unique, material solutions by foam forming. This production technology uses wood-based cellulose fibres and enables the production of lightweight biomaterials that are renewable, biodegradable and recyclable, using the minimum amount of water. The main challenge was to reduce weight while retaining the impact strength of the material structure. The project resulted in novel production techniques and materials with improved technical properties and appealing perceptual characteristics. Material prototypes presented in this exhibition can be developed into future packaging solutions, to compete with conventional packaging. 

Designing wood-based lightweight structures for packaging. CoCeA (Complex Cellulose Structures or Consumer Applications) is part of the FinnCERES, a joint research programme between Aalto University and VTT.

Working group: Pirjo Kääriäinen, Carlos Alves (Aalto University), Jukka Ketoja (VTT), Atsushi TanakaIlkka Nurminen (VTT), Anastasia Ivanova (Aalto ARTS/VTT)

Contact: [email protected]

Fold and Sustain folded structures

The project investigates patterns and folded structures which can be implemented in packaging design to replace plastic materials, concentrating especially on creating transformable, stable and protective structures. The aim is to explore more sustainable cellulose-based folded structures that could replace for example bubble wrap, polystyrene or other wrapping materials to protect the product inside the packaging.

Fold and Sustain is part of the FinnCERES joint research programme between Aalto University and VTT. The research group combines design, mathematics and material sciences. Working group: Miia Palmu & Oleg Galkin(Aalto University MA students) under the supervision of Kirsi Peltonen(Aalto University), and Jarmo Kouko(Senior Scientist at VTT).

Contact: [email protected]

Pack-Age student works

Packaging design course students from different programmes worked in interdisciplinary teams with actual projects from the industry. The exhibition showcases sustainable package ideas designed by student groups.

Contact: [email protected]



Aalto Package Design Symposium 2019

Aalto Package Design Symposium 2019

In a world of finite resources, what are the drivers of change in packaging design? How to address sustainability and how to design experiences and empathy?

Aalto Pack-age student project


Pack-Age is an innovative packaging design course uniting visual communication, design, business and engineering thinking to sustainability and project-based learning.

Corporate collaboration
Designs for A Cooler Planet

Designs for a Cooler Planet – Helsinki Design Week 2019

During September 2019, Aalto University's exhibition programme for Helsinki Design Week, titled 'Designs for a Cooler Planet' will introduce solutions for more sustainable lifestyles in Otaniemi

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