“Packaging can be theatre, it can create a story."
It all starts with hello.
Companies often spend a lot of time designing their products; the aesthetics of their products, the ergonomics and the user interactions. However, what they often forget is that the product itself isn't the first thing we come across as a user. Before we even get to that product, we have to unbox it. A lot of the time, this is a very boring and tedious process, but not with Apple.
In 2015, Apple and Hermès, two iconic brands from very different fields, came together to create a range of Apple Watches. The idea was to design a high-end series of the Apple Watch, which combined the technology of Apple and the luxury craftsmanship of Hermès. The combination of technology and fashion was unrivalled by other brands in the market. Although the watch straps were very different between the standard Apple Watch and Apple Watch Hermès, the software was similar. The only difference, digitally, was that the Hermès watches featured exclusive watch faces. These watch faces had Hermès branding and colours to match the Hermès watch straps.
The biggest difference, other than the Hermès watch straps, was the packaging. Apple Watch comes in Apple's habitual packaging, which is always an experience in itself. However, Apple Watch Hermès took Apple packaging to a whole new level. The packaging was beautifully designed, with bright colouring and stunning textures. The inside of the box featured a soft, fabric lining to protect the watch from any potential scratches. It was exactly what unboxing a luxury watch should be; over the top, elegant and theatrical.
However, Apple and Hermès didn't limit their collaborative efforts to the Apple Watch. In 2021, Apple released a product called an AirTag.
AirTag is a tracking device, used to find lost items, and prevent you from losing items. Although it's an extremely interesting and well designed piece of technology, that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'll save that for another blog post. However, what I am here to talk about, is the AirTag Hermès and it's packaging.
The AirTag Hermès is almost identical to the standard model, however the Hermès typography is engraved onto the metal side of the AirTag. You can also purchase Hermès-specific keyrings and luggage tags for your AirTag, too. Once again, Apple and Hermès went all-out on their packaging. Sticking to a similar design to the Apple Watch Hermès boxes, they created packaging with a beautiful, textured orange exterior which highlights the embossed Hermès branding. But, it's when you open the box that the real experience begins.
Once you lift the lid, you're greeted with a fabric "cushion" that holds the contents of your order. Embossed into the fabric is the AirTag and Hermès branding, matching the surface of the box lid. You then unfold the fabric cushion, to reveal delicately designed slots which hold the AirTag, Hermès leather keyring and the metal keyring itself.
Within the cushion, you'll find an information pullout, as with any Apple product. Within this pullout, there is the classic "Designed by Apple in California" signature, however this one is followed by "& Hermès in Paris", written in an ink-style font for some extra pizzaz.
There is a specially designed pull tab that is just about noticeable when looking at the sections within the fabric cushion. When you pull this tab, it reveals a single metal ring for the keyring; an extremely over the top piece of packaging for such a small item.
Overall, this unboxing experience is outrageously excessive, which is what makes it so brilliant. You could argue that, with the Apple Watch, the over-the-top packaging is necessary as it's a luxury watch, therefore the corresponding packaging is suitable. However, the packaging for the AirTag is so unnecessary that it makes it absolutely necessary. Steve Jobs once described unboxing products as "theatre", and the AirTag unboxing experience is the closest to "theatre" that packaging can get. Every tiny detail has been thought through to make the experience as interactive and beautiful as it can be; every single element has been carefully considered.
Apple and Hermès have an outstanding relationship, that combines beauty with functionality. These sorts of collaborations are what maintains Apple's status as a "luxury" technology brand. I honestly, in my head, cannot think of a single better piece of packaging in the entire world than the packaging for the AirTag Hermès.
External Graphics - 10 / 10
The exterior of the box is beautifully designed, with a stunning orange colour that perfectly relates to the Hermès brand. The text is simplistic and clear, without any unnecessary information. The border of the box has a contrasting black colour, that matches the text in the centre of the lid. Overall, the design of the box sticks to a style that suits both brands, which is extremely important and hard to deliver.
Internal Graphics - 10 / 10
As with any Apple product, the graphics within the box are as carefully considered as the graphics outside. The embossed text on the fabric cushion perfectly matches that of the lid. The pullout is clear and easy to read, whilst maintaining Apple's modern styling and layout. The addition of the "& Hermès in Paris" to Apple's signature "Designed by Apple in California" adds a little extra 'something' to stand out from other Apple products.
External Physical Packaging - 10 / 10
The box is beautifully made, with seamless edges. The surface finish is outstanding, with a hammered effect for a leather-like feel. All of this adds to the luxury identity that Apple and Hermès are applying to the product. Structurally, the box is very simplistic in its shape, which suits both brands perfectly, and maintains it's position amongst Apple's other boxes.
Internal Physical Packaging - 10 / 10
The fabric cushioning is so extra that it's undeniably some of Apple's best internal packaging. The cushion is a beautifully designed product in its own right. The material used, along with the physical design is breathtaking. Each slot is made to perfectly fit each element of the product that is packaged within it. And, we cannot forget, the beautifully, unapologetically over-the-top pull tab for the single metal ring. 10 out of 10.
Theatre - 10 / 10
I really don't think I need to explain my rating at this point. Every single element of the unpacking experience has been carefully thought through and physically designed from start to finish. Apple and Hermès has completely guided this unboxing experience and made something that you will truly enjoy.
TOTAL - 10 / 10