HP is opening its software to help creatives and brands collaborate to achieve greater and more rapid customisation and personalisation of their products.
HP’s SmartStream Designer software, famously used to create the personalised bottles for the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, has been stripped back to make it more accessible to designers. Until now the software was only accessible to owners of HP digital presses, but the lighter version of the software – HP SmartStream Designer for Designers (D4D) – is set to democratise the digital printing process.
The beta trial was unveiled at a launch party at the Black Swan Studios in London’s Bermondsey on Thursday.
Smirnoff gave its blessing to HP and emerging designers, the Yarza Twins, to show off the capabilities of the technology. The Yarzas created a design concept using 21 characters, 21 hats, 21 bodies and 21 patterns to reflect the brand Smirnoff 21 and showcase the capability of D4D. This resulted in the creation of individualised bottles, posters, table wrappings, wallpaper, based on an ‘Everyone the same, Everyone different’ concept.
“We are living in very tough times where everyone is very individualistic and believes their community is the best, so we wanted to bring it back the idea of everyone is the same, everyone is different,” added Marta Yarza.
Nancy Janes, global head of brand innovation at HP, said: “Share a Coke was the lighthouse campaign that people are very familiar with and helped people understand that HP digital printing is no longer short run.
“Now what the designers are looking for is; how do you take digital printing to the next level to make packaging truly unique, regardless of volumes.”
D4D is free-to-use and allows designers to create 20 variable images from every seed file, which will enable rapid prototyping.
Janes explained: “The designers can fix any design elements that need to remain and then vary or randomise everything else. If the brand client signs off on the concepts it can go into full blown production with a D4D enabled HP print service provider.”
Steve Honour, design manager at Diageo Europe & Africa, said the company would “love to” roll out the bottle designs on a commercial scale and added the HP technology meant this was a “feasible possibility.
“The idea of taking this to a larger scale and people standing and spending 10 minutes looking at the packaging as art is actually really exciting because sometimes art, design and creativity is not accessible, or shareable, let alone purchasable and touchable,” said Honour.
Silas Amos, who coordinated the collaboration between HP, Smirnoff and the Yarzas, believes allowing designers access to the software to prototype designs is “changing the rules”.
“Advertising has become a real-time medium, leaving packaging behind, but the opportunity is now here to move the packaging industry forward,” said Amos. “It is the only interruptive media left. I can screen out a banner ad, look away from a magazine, turn off the television, but if I want to get to the aspirin or the deodorant, I have to go through the packaging.
“You have to be very careful you are building the brand and not diluting the brand. The good stuff will be based on brands that have invested in building strong iconography that can be flexed so it is un-mistakably them even when they are highly abstracted.”
HP has created videos featuring the Yarzas to show off the capabilities of the software and explain how it can be used.
The 500 designers who will trial the software are being accepted on a ‘first come first served’ basis, and there will be 15 ‘super users’ providing detailed feedback during the beta trial.
Janes said the UK was chosen for the trial due to its innovative nature and because the “design community in London is really quite dynamic”.
Other designers and artists who have already trialed the technology and spoke of their efforts at the launch party included Emily Forgot, Supermundane and David Shillinglaw.
“I think this is a really playful technology and it feels like the future,” said Shillinglaw.
The software also allows users to print in a combination of seven colours than the usual four (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black).
“When you print normally, it does not look the same as your screen, but this way it looks exactly the same,” said Marta Yarza.
The software can be used on any type of print, whether that be a corrugated piece, a table covering, the floor, a leaflet, a brochure or a business card.
“Where people are looking for omnichannel executions I think print has a big role to play,” concluded Janes.
The new software will be trialed among 500 UK-based designers. From November 6 for a three-month period, designers will be able to register to be part of the beta programme by visiting here.