Ai Jia

Package . Typography . Branding . Information .
"The taste of home".
The power of sentiment is not to be underestimated. The feeling of comfort, security, love, and familiarity is greatly tied to the tasting of food which reminds us of home. 'Ai Jia', directly translating to 'Love Home', is a South/East Asian spice brand and product line. The concept for Ai Jia was to create a set of spices that consumers would want to keep, refill, and continue to reuse (with priorities to keep one time use or wasteful packaging out of landfills), whilst creating a brand that was true to the spice's culture of origin (using materials with organic/biodegradable, natural and leafy textures and colours to tie together the spices and their South/East Asian roots).

The kit contains 6 popular South/East Asian spices housed in hemp string jars lined with a washable and reusable, coated canvas liner. The outer sleeve of the kit contains an infographic on the interior which displays information to consumers that communicates the common knowledge of South/East Asian food culture to its Western audience; this includes each individual spice’s native country, favour profile, health benefits and most common food used in. This same information is also detailed in an infographic card within the single serve refills, which just as they sound, have the purpose of being purchased as a refill for the kit's jars. The packaging of the single serve consists of completely recyclable paper, as well as a bamboo leaf pocket to contain the spice, which is 100% compostable and biodegradable.
Kit 9.25" x 3.25" x 5.5"
Refills 4.75" x 0.75" x 5"
February 2019 - March 2019
1.5 months
Natural Papers
Dried Bamboo Leaves
Embroidery Thread
Hemp String
I began with researching how consumers typically purchase, store and use their spices. Through my research I concluded there are primarily two ways people purchase spices, in disposable plastic bulk bags or glass shakers. This sprouted the idea of a refillable kit with all environmentally friendly packaging. I then researched various South East/East Asian spices and noted down various facts and important traits about them; trying to figure out their flavour, their use, their importance and the cultural connotations associated with them. All of this information also lent itself easily to picking various preliminary colour schemes.
I started by constructing various containers based on several instructions in a present wrapping book I found at a thrift store. Creating different locks, containers and shapes to play and experiment with in order to create the containers used for the single serves and the kit.

After finalizing the initial single serve package container from a prototype made earlier I looked into some paper colour and material combinations, I also ended up making a few refinements to the dyelines to improve the locking mechanism. I then went on to creating the bamboo pouches that would go inside; I chose bamboo for its ability to decompose and be shaped and reshaped when going from wet to dry.

I then made different iterations and practiced the construction of the baskets for the interior of the kits with a preliminary version of the washable liners. I also set colour combinations based on the spices I had finalized and chosen; red for the chilli peppers, green for bay leaves, black for black sesame seeds, brown for star anise, white for white pepper, and yellow for turmeric.

I continued with the construction of the actual kit package/container. The initial concept was sketched and done as a two section fold out with what looked like a tray on the interior which held the spice baskets. This failed attempt inspired the final design of a stackable, two tray design modeled after stacking crates. This allowed for my desired packaging look, but also gave the consumer the opportunity to have the baskets stored in the two tiers, which was a bonus for reusability of package materials.

The final stage consisted of overall package and container construction was ensuring all dimensions fit together, ensuring the baskets and bamboo leaves fit inside the kit and refill boxes, and also ensuring the kit sleeve fit correctly and that everything was held together securely.
Package Construction
Experimenting with branding began by looking at different typefaces, and type combinations that included the mandarin characters as well as English translation. I knew the name of the brand and the reason behind it, Ai Jia meaning love and home, so I therefore already had the image of warmth, South/East Asian food and tradition, and the cozy feeling of food from home. To achieve this desired feeling with the brand, I was delving into type combinations but also looking at various layouts, colours pallets, and visual styles with different graphics; playing around also with type weights, textures, and more colour emphasis. At this stage I was beginning to decide where I wanted to incorporate the accent colours, figuring out type combinations, art and illustration style, as well as sizing and placement of all these components on the various deliverables.

In this process there was a lot of going back and forth on components or elements that were very similar, but the overall branding visually developed through the many iterations and continued to become more refined.