Packaging – it draws many questions. Do we need it? How can we recycle it? Rethink it? Adelaide-based industrial design studio Daniel Emma is changing the narrative on packaging, and embracing its beauty with a new exhibition on view at Beulah Park-based gallery Hugo Michell Gallery.

Duo Daniel To and Emma Aiston often focus on everyday, sometimes forgotten objects in their practice, elevating them with whimsy. ‘Packaging is quite often just a throw away item, and it is what is inside that is celebrated, which is such a shame! We have a long standing love of packaging and have many strong memories associated with it,’ they explain. For the exhibition, titled Pak-Uh-Jing (phonetic sounds for the term), Daniel Emma have a forensic view on the subject – ‘for us, this influence of packaging, ranging from form to colour, is indirectly a theme in much of our work.’

Water bottle
Money packet

From a five dollar note pack made in sterling silver to a resin envelope, there is plenty of nostalgia in the 16 pieces Daniel Emma have devised for the project. ‘For us it is quite satisfying to see a crate of perfectly lined up apricots!’ they explain of a painted oak tray they designed just for the small orange fruit. ‘Personally there are also some delightful and enjoyable moments attached to these objects, whether they be memories of our grandparents, a celebration of our large haul of fruits from our backyard orchard, our travels, or family traditions.’

There are a few regular favourites too, like a classic water bottle made in oak, acrylic and aluminium, and a tennis ball can adorned with Australian sapphires. Playful, lighthearted and experimental, Daniel Emma’s models distort the idea of packaging as waste, and frames it as a prized possession. Ultimately for the duo, they wanted to design pieces that are ‘just nice.’ §