I think too many product designers treat packaging like an afterthought. So much energy goes into the product, we don't really consider it's whole life. That is unfortunate because the packaging - whatever it happens to be - is the way our end user first experiences our work. In that way, the package is how you present your product- and by extension, yourself- to the customer.
When some coworkers and I entered the Gates Foundation Records for Life competition, we had a really good concept. A great deal of effort went into the physical product, the strategy behind it, and the graphic design of all the printed materials. We also put a great deal of effort and thought into the package. In a situation where we would not be there to present it, the package would need to stand in for our physical presence. And really, that is every package.
I spent a lot of my time at Gravitytank working on packaging. It is hard, but what I learned was that the package was a part of the experience. It expresses the ideals of the company, the philosophy of the product, and the designer's intent. Paying for a great product that then comes in a crappy box is not going to provide the experience you payed for. In my opinion, it's sloppy work. I can't imagine handing over one of my products to a customer (who I am grateful for) in an afterthought. It would be like telling them I valued their money, but I don't really care about the experience they are having.
I am kind of ranting.
I bring this up because I am working on the packaging for d'Jinn, so it is foremost in my mind. I don't want to drive the cost up too much, but I also want the experience of getting the package in the mail to seem special. To get to a solution, I am constantly checking ideas off of the brand. I have to be sure that there is a coherent story between what I say in the product (honest material, no fussy parts, clarity of form, etc.) and what the customer will experience when they get this in the mail.
Right now, it is a rectangular corrugated box with a craft finish, because I don't apply finishes to the lamp (all the material is exactly what it looks like). It will have a shredded bedding because it feels older, antiquated, and gives the impression that the metal parts inside form a scientific instrument. Unwrapping from bubble wrap wouldn't feel as authentic and would add complexity. There will be instructions for assembly (no tools required) but few words, and presented like a secret note between me and the customer. All of this will make more sense when I publish photos.
For now, stay tuned and let me know what you think. -Bates