Everyday packaging gets reframed by Daniel Emma

Putting the power back into packaging with industrial design studio Daniel Emma’s invesigative models at Hugo Michell Gallery

Sculptures resembling melon and apricots
Left, melon in painted oak, brass and aluminium. Right, apricot crate in oak, maple, stirling silver, acrylic and resin
(Image credit: TBC)

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

(Image credit: TBC)

Money packet

(Image credit: TBC)

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.’


Pak-Uh-Jing, 12 March – 8 April at Hugo Michell Gallery



260 Portrush Rd
Beulah Park SA 5067


Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.