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Stoelzle Glass Group

Interview with Louise Hodkinson, Designer at Stoelzle Flaconnage

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Louise Hodkinson, Lead Graphic Designer at our Stoelzle UK production site, gives an insight into how the Stoelzle design team works, its structure, processes and skills. Find out why working with Stoelzle for your bespoke product design could benefit your business.

Louise, could you please introduce yourself and tell us about your journey with Stoelzle Glass Group?

I've been a designer at Stoelzle Glass Group for over 4 years now. I am part of the Design Team at Stoelzle Flaconnage, our production and decoration facility in the UK. I focus primarily on the Design Service, creating tailored packaging designs for the spirits industry. My previous creative roles were solely Graphic Design, working for companies within the technology and distribution sector. I also have previous experience as a Print Specialist, which has given me invaluable knowledge of the fundamentals of print and how we can apply that knowledge to our work.

I decided to take a different approach to my creative career, by choosing a creative role within manufacturing, I get to work with some of the world’s biggest brands and create packaging solutions for a wide range of clients. As working as part of a small team, I get the opportunity to extend my skill sets to Design Engineering, turning ideas into products that stand the test of time.

What services does the Stoelzle design team provide to its customers?

Essentially, we have two areas within the department: the creative ability to design innovative and unique packaging solutions and the manufacturing side, which initiates the production process by designing the moulds and tooling equipment used to produce bespoke glass bottles for the Prestige Spirits sector.

Can you walk us through the typical process the Stoelzle design team follows when working on a new glass product (from concept ideation to the final product)?

All our projects start with extensive research to understand the reason for a particular design choice, the purpose of the design and how it will connect with the consumer. We then create a mood board based on all the research we have gathered, which acts as a visionary anchor throughout the project, ensuring our vision remains clear to our original objectives. The next stage is ideation, where we gather all our information and develop actual solutions. In the development phase the concept is turned into a manufacturable design. See below the WhataHoot Distillery bottle in production.

Once the design is approved, specifications for all elements of the pack are drawn up to ensure that each component can be produced as specified. Once the design project is complete, the glass, decoration and closure enter the New Product Development process at Stoelzle. Any other features of the design, such as labels or metallised decoration, are then passed to the collaborating manufacturer to complete the product. See below the WhataHoot Distillery glass bottle.

What can customers expect from working with the Stoelzle design team?

We offer a very collaborative approach to all our customers, whether it is a design only project or a new product development. Developing this close relationship between ourselves and the customer is the fundamental key to the success of any project, ensuring that we achieve the customer's objectives and are able to design and manufacture a product that our customers will love.

How does the team keep up with the latest design trends and incorporate innovation into its glass product designs?

As designers we are constantly looking and thinking of new innovations to design and manufacture. Inspiration can come in many forms. In the long term, we source information from a trend forecasting company, which provides a fundamental analysis of the coming years, enabling us to design ahead of the trends. Within our design department we have monthly trend discussions where one team member gives a presentation on future trends and inspiration.

But inspiration can come from all areas of life. We aim to educate ourselves within the industries we work in by attending events and webinars, whether it is art direction, product design or sustainability innovation events. In turn, the more information we have about markets and consumer trends, the better we can apply it to our work.

Given the increasing focus on sustainability, how does the Stoelzle design team integrate environmentally friendly practices into its designs and manufacturing processes?

We are constantly looking for innovations in sustainability and how we can incorporate them into our projects.

Lightweighting is a fundamental part of glass manufacturing and we are always looking for ways to integrate innovative engineering techniques to make bottles lighter while maintaining the premium feel and aesthetics of the product.

Louise Hodkinson, Lead Designer at Stoelzle Flaconnage

We also try to create designs that offer secondary uses, allowing the bottle to be repurposed into something new, creating an infinite lifecycle. Beyond the glass, we look for solutions in the additional materials used in our designs, such as label materials made from fruit waste, biodegradable capsules made from algae and decorative inks made from recycled tyres. We also think about the journey a product will take and ensure that all details are considered to facilitate a smooth recycling or reuse process, such as using adhesives on labels that allow for easy removal.

What are the benefits of working with the Stoelzle design team?

The key differentiator that sets us apart from other design or manufacturing companies is our extensive knowledge of both. With a diverse team of product designers, designers, and mechanical engineers, we have the capabilities to push the boundaries of design and manufacturing, reinventing the way we visualise a glass bottle. Combining our extensive technical knowledge with dynamic creativity, our ethos is that every bottle design we create is manufacturable, ensuring that we always develop solutions with feasibility and longevity in mind. See below the Whitby Distillery Limited Gin Packaging design.

By being able to design and manufacture a project, we can carry out both aspects simultaneously, reducing the development time that would normally be required if the project was carried out separately by different companies. All under one roof, there is a simple flow of communication throughout every stage of the design and manufacturing process, ensuring seamless product development from start to finish.

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