The LAB University of Applied Sciences, situated on the Lahti campus less than two hours from Helsinki, is a forerunner of packaging education and design in Finland.
Oona Casalegno, Senior Lecturer at LAB, leads the University’s packaging curriculum. Before shifting to teaching in 2018, Casalegno had a lengthy career in both B2B and B2C packaging – building more than 20 years of project management and design expertise for household names like Nokia, Iittala, and Fiskars.
We spoke with Casalegno about the origins of LAB’s first project with Lemtapes – and its important results for future packaging industry professionals.
Tape Hack kickoff
LAB and Lemtapes came together through shared colleague Markus Joutsela of Aalto University.
“I got to know Lemtapes during the Aalto Pack-Age project one year before – that’s how we originally found each other. I was there to evaluate and comment, and met Diana Rossi from Lemtapes. Some time after that, she contacted me and asked if LAB would like to do a collaboration.”
Tape Hack was conceived as a student project to demonstrate the effectiveness of Lemtapes tapes in corrugated packaging – for example adding strength, improving functionality, reducing material use, and improving the user packaging experience.
During the project, the students would gain real-world experience in carrying out a packaging design project, complete with a customer brief, project milestones, and final presentations. Working with an outside company was the key to making the project most impactful for the students.
“I always say yes to company collaborations. The students behave more like young professionals in front of the client. It’s completely different when there is a real company involved – and so important,” says Casalegno.
Tape Hack kicked off with a joint brief from Casalegno and Lemtapes on the first day of the course. The students were first tasked with a group project to build a podium made of corrugated board and reinforced by Lemtapes.
“The podium was quite challenging, I must say. But, it was excellent three-dimensional structural training for them – it made them think about stack weight, bulge, and folding.”
At the same time, each student was responsible for delivering their own creative packaging solution.
“I always say they have to fail – test, fail, and learn from the mistake.”
As the course continued, the students’ Lemtapes-reinforced podium and packaging solutions slowly took shape. Casalegno was there to offer advice and guidance in the classroom.
“The schedule was quite demanding, but I think they enjoyed it a lot. They were motivated by their individual packaging task while also gaining experience in delivering the podium project with their groups.”
To prepare for working life, consistent group work is key to the curriculum at LAB – students constantly carry out group projects during their four-year tenure. The students also gained valuable real-world experience using ArtiosCAD, a computer-aided design (CAD) program developed specifically for the packaging industry.
At key points in the project, the students received feedback from Lemtapes from a business and production point of view. The project wrapped up with a day-long presentation marathon helmed by both Casalegno and Rossi. The atmosphere, according to Casalegno, was tense – but festive.
“The final presentation was very fun. I don’t always know the result in advance – I want to be surprised. They presented the podiums and then their individual projects, and every presentation received personalized feedback from Lemtapes’ perspective.”
In the end, the students had succeeded both in constructing a reinforced podium made of corrugated board and delivering their individual packaging projects. Each student developed a working prototype of their package, with a clear use case and unique product branding.
Lemtapes reinforcement tape was used as a key material, and easy-open pull tabs incorporating Lemtapes Open Tape were a common feature – such as in a shareable chocolate box. Lemtapes’ three-tape solution was also used, for example, in a book exchange concept with a package that was easy to pack, open, and reseal for return.
“Projects like these are so strong – people remember these moments. I think for the rest of their lives they will remember Lemtapes.”
When considering the next generation of packaging, Casalegno keeps a close eye on new material developments – such as bioplastics – but believes greater packaging sustainability will be driven by changes to the supply chain.
“I think corrugated board will stay more or less the same. It’s such a great material. But more importantly, people are now starting to consider whether it’s reasonable to produce everything very far away and transport them to their final destination. People are starting to think more locally, and more about locally produced packaging.”
Throughout these global changes, Lemtapes will be there to strengthen and improve packaging to remain functional throughout its lifecycle, starting from production and its journey through the supply chain, to arriving safely at the end user and being easily recycled.
As the demands of brand owners and consumers grow, so will the functional and creative demands on modern packaging designers. Tape Hack was, overall, an exercise in building the next generation of packaging designers: a hands-on project backed up with real-world demands.
“Maybe I asked too much from the students, but I’m quite a demanding teacher!” Casalegno laughs.
Or, judging from their success, maybe just demanding enough.
This project was also a learning experience for Lemtapes, and it was fascinating to see how the design project, and the student teams, proceeded. Many thanks to Oona Casalegno for guiding all the students and the teamwork!
This project showed what students are capable of when asked for a fresh perspective, and a demonstration of the power of collaboration.Diana Rossi
Lemtapes holiday packaging calendar
We’re posting a selection of student projects on social media throughout the month of December. Follow for updates, or check out the full gallery!