Rozhovor: Papírník Jan Činčera

20. května 2020


Four years ago, as we were launching our first Onest products, we were sure about one thing - that we wanted them to be dressed in a smart jacket, and paper one to boot. We tried to aim high and approached a Prague-based Studio Činčera, run by the most prominent packaging designer in the country, Jan Činčera. 

Today, we can proudly say that the collaboration turned out great, and is not going to stop. That given, we asked the author of our minimalist white paper boxes for an interview and for a little paper keepsake along with that. So was born a series of design mini-objects complementing the visual identity of our latest piece - One face cream. Several hundreds of hand-made origami pyramids were put together from various types of paper trimmings that would have otherwise ended up in the trash. Long live handicraft and upcycling… so no worries, you won’t miss out on our paper pyramids!

Why did you decide to go into paper?

I guess it was more the other way around… that paper chose me. I picked my major - Processing of paper and package design - already in technical high school (I graduated in 1980). And in 1983, I met J. H. Kocman, who introduced me to paper from a completely different perspective; he helped me discover it as a poetic material, not plainly industrial. This new and broad view of paper has kept me company throughout my whole professional career. Paper is a cultural material, not only a medium for carrying information, or a building material for books. It can become the object, the sculpture, or a piece of architecture. It can be “built” to work as packaging material for small and even bulky items. Put simply, it’s versatile and its bespoke applications are multiple!

How has your job changed in the past 10 years?

There have been some changes in the processing technologies; nonetheless, fascination with the material has not faded a bit. Customer expectations for its applications are changing, though. Back in the 1990s, they wanted simple packaging in the line of bags or hamburger boxes, whereas the post-revolution era called for things that could go on an airplane. Later on, the packaging was supposed to resemble iPhone covers. Lately, the client briefs are packed with referential images from social media; there is not as much emphasis placed on wording and verbal description - people go around it through visuals now. If there’s a way of using it for print, there are paper properties that can serve us nicely, like watermarks, embossing, flexibility and strength.

What does a great paper packaging need to have?

First and foremost, a great paper packaging must accent the wrapped object. It cannot be too pronounced, meaning it cannot dominate the object. It should be of pleasant proportions and accommodating, too. It should never beat the thing inside it. It simply needs to protect, be useful and functional!

What does the process of design and manufacture of a new paper product entail for your studio?

Our strong suit (and limitation as well) is that we design each packaging so that we are eventually able to produce it, or arrange for its production somewhere else. We do not go the complicated path (in the long run, it is this simplicity that often means some hiccups or difficulties in production, though). We try to make packaging that is simple and standard, but some jobs call for long discussions about the final design, involving a lot of trying and testing, making changes or looking for the ideal technology solutions… And of course, you need a reliable team. We don’t make use of available online packaging assets just to put our finger on some generic box that easily holds some generic product. What we do is we try and take distance when planning for each job, to approach it with a clean, unbiased, and original take.

What would be your career bests? And no need for modesty...

To me, that’s just a phrase… But to be frank, every job well done makes me happy. All in all, for my studio and I, listing some successful past jobs does not carry as much weight as being able to collaborate with clients that I have respect for, professionally and personally. I cannot give you three projects off the top of my head, but Lasvit, for instance, is one that we’ve had the pleasure to work with on several extraordinary packaging solutions over the long time we’ve been working together.

And how do you perceive Onest?

We work with you because we can see you are really applying yourself, truly and fully. You are great clients who know what they want. We see eye to eye on the simplicity and cleanness of the design. And that translates into the quality of the products and vice versa. It’s nice to know that the packaging line is taking new boxes on board and that you provide us with space to come up with beautiful packaging collections. Yours is exactly the case where the product is in harmony with its packaging.

Photo: Michael Dvořák, Tomáš Souček