Q&A with Steffi Lenz, Innovation Product Manager, O-I

March 14, 2022

We caught up with Steffi Lenz to find out about her exciting role bringing innovative packaging concepts to life with O-I : EXPRESSIONS.

What’s your working process with customers?

Every project is different – a customer might come to us for a new product, or a relaunch, or maybe to enter in a new segment. My team and I tailor our approach according to their needs, starting with research, then ideation and mood boards, and we develop different design approaches for the customer to choose from. Using our software we can then present the customer with a 3D rendering which shows exactly what the final package would look like with the liquid inside.

Could you give us an example?

We created special bottle to mark the 50th anniversary of the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) in 2018. The bottles featured 50 thin lines to represent each year of the competition’s life. The inspiration for this was a tree which develops a new age line every year as it grows. Since whisky is aged in wooden barrels, we thought this would be a nice connection: whisky, tree, wood and a lifeline to reflect 50 years of IWSC.

What are the most exciting possibilities offered by O-I : EXPRESSIONS in your view?

Personalisation is a really interesting option. Our printers can work with variable data which means we can produce 100 bottles which are all different, or designate batch and bottle numbers for a small craft spirits brand. I also love the possibility offered by O-I : EXPRESSIONS RELIEF, our capability to 3D-print embossings onto a bottle. Using this technique we can create intricate designs with even finer lines than would be possible using glass moulding, and at lower volumes and shorter lead times.

Are customers sometimes surprised by the range of design options available?

Yes! With O-I : EXPRESSIONS you can take a standard bottle and transform it into something very special. Customers sometimes come to us with a design which looks like a traditional label, but with O-I : EXPRESSIONS you don’t have to stay within a square on the front and back. You can have a 360˚ wraparound design in almost any colour, with transparency, different gradients and texture… only limited by imagination.

What are some of your favourite O-I : EXPRESSIONS packages?

The bottles we created for Italian wine brand Gulfi feature a beautiful contour design which was inspired by a contoured map of the region where the wine comes from. Another of my favourites is the collectable series of jars we developed for BETTO (a range of Sicilian deserts) which each feature a letter of the alphabet.

How does O-I : EXPRESSIONS reflect the biggest trends in glass packaging today?

Today, people like products that are tailored to them and their lifestyle; they want a great experience rather than just something that looks good on the shelf, and this is particularly true for younger consumers who are less likely to stick with brands they know. The capability of O-I : EXPRESSIONS to personalise – down to the individual bottle – fits in very well with this trend. Also, with growing awareness of the need to protect the environment there’s also a big trend towards upcycling and reusing bottles. We’re definitely seeing this trend realised through O-I : EXPRESSIONS because the bottle you create can be a true piece of art.