Work & Show: Design Bridge

A section with outstanding work by our members. This time, the project Notpla by Design Bridge and Partners.

What makes this project special? 

“Notpla was created on a mission to ‘make plastic packaging disappear.’ As a seaweed-based sustainable packaging start up, it was created from a need to solve the plastic problem we have around the world and the overuse of single-use plastic. It provides a sustainable alternative to plastic packaging using a revolutionary material that naturally decomposes in weeks, compared to 700 years for plastic.

Notpla can be used to directly replace plastic cups at sporting events, festivals, as sachets for condiments, and as a coating for takeaway cardboard boxes to create a wide range of products. 

We are determined to use a nature-made solution to a man-made problem, by leveraging the incredible power of seaweed, an abundant natural material on our planet, to create sustainable packaging solutions that are biodegradable, natural and even edible. It's a revolutionary concept at its core.”

What was the objective of this project, and how does the design contribute to achieving this objective? 

“We set about to develop a material name as well as a brand name – similar to Gore-Tex, for example. With Notpla, or ‘not-plastic’, we believed that the power of giving a name to the brand’s material would allow people to see its potential value in the world. People could engage not just with the product but with the actual material, what it does and the positive footprint that Notpla has. We thought this was a real future-proof method.”

Photo: David Lineton, Longlong Han and Sam Scales

Can you tell us something about the (design) process? 

“With such a big, bold statement at its core, the brand needed to be communicated without being shy or overcomplicated. So, simplicity was the key to bringing Notpla’s message to the world. The simpler and more accessible an idea and message, the better it translates globally. 

When we tried to bring this to life through the brand, we subverted convention by starting not with what it is, but what it’s not. Notpla is a brand that doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. Helping to create a distinctive and important brand message that pushes against the status quo. There’s beauty in this simplicity. 

Photos: David Lineton, Longlong Han and Sam Scales

Our identity is centered around this core mission of making packaging disappear. So, the animated and interactive logo reflects a vessel that can be filled with water, juices, cocktails or sauces, and when it is emptied, the exterior disappears, just like its packaging.” 

Were there any windfalls, pitfalls or setbacks while working on this project?

“Consumers today have become not just aware, but emotionally connected with the issue of plastic pollution. The challenge for us was to create a name and a brand that would leave people in no doubt about its revolutionary role in the world. A brand that could work as a material name and a household name that signifies a fully natural packaging solution to one of the world's biggest problems. A brand at the forefront of environmental sustainability. With Notpla, we achieved just that.”

Has your design research culminated in the development of actual healing environments?

“At the 2019 London Marathon, 6,000 Notpla-made sachets filled with Lucozade were handed out to runners. By 2022, Notpla had made over two million takeaway food boxes for Just Eat, with the potential to replace over 100 million plastic coated containers in Europe in the future.

Photo: David Lineton, Longlong Han and Sam Scales

Notpla is built on the idea that its products will change the world – and the world’s most influential environmental thinkers agree. In 2022, Notpla won the prestigious Earthshot Prize, one of just five companies across the world to be recognised in these highly regarded awards, founded by Prince William and launched by David Attenborough in 2020.

This recognition positions Notpla as a ground-breaking solution to repair and regenerate the planet, with a $1.2 million prize fund to further innovations and bolster their mission to make packaging disappear.”