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1st Brief: Virgin Atlantic

Brief: Defining the new chapter for Virgin Atlantic by designing new packaging concept for their British afternoon tea or Street food as airline food concept. Revamp the iconic pink Mile High Tea box by Eric Lanlard.

Client: Virgin Atlantic – disruptive, memorable, familiar, innovative, forward-thinking, heart-felt, enjoyable service, a spirited & distinct personality, brilliantly different; passengers enjoy the service on board.

Team: For this brief I teamed up with Nawang and Sam.

Initial Concept – The Sleepy Pilot

A big thing for Virgin Atlantic is their story-telling and how they want their brand to be perceived as “brilliantly different”. With the team we decided to come up with three different concepts, while also talking to one another for feedback and suggestions. I did a quick brainstorm for initial ideas and then created a mood board with colours and inspiration pictures.

  • Plane trails in the sky
  • Clouds (sunsets?)
  • Inflatable balloons 
  • Artificial architecture
  • Weird shaped clouds with faces on them
  • Astronaut

My idea started forming when I thought about my own personal experience as a traveller, taking 10 flights per year. During these long hours I either read a book, watch a movie or fall asleep. So I came up with Sleepy Pilot Tea: a story inspired by passengers on long journeys, falling asleep in their seat 40 000 feet above the ground, in the clouds. After the class feedback I decided to introduce a Pilot character, that takes the passengers into an imaginary cozy world with cloud furniture, cloud characters, inflatables, etc. The design would be eye-catching with pink, sky blue and calming white.

For the interior of the box, I thought about having a map with destinations around the world (the cities Virgin Atlantic flies to) and spread them in the cloud pattern. A question for passengers to share in social media – Where is The Sleepy Pilot taking YOU?

For Sam’s idea I thought something really cool would be to have an augmented reality element accompanying her story. I was inspired by a 3D Snapchat filter of a dancing hot-dog that appears in your surroundings which you capture with your phone camera. This interactive element would be very on brand with Virgin Atlantic with how different and unexpected it is. I thought that there could be a QR code on the box, which when people scan it they could see a 3D fairy flying inside the packaging of the box. I found a few 3D models of fairies to show that idea in our presentation.

For the pitch to the client, I created a deck on Canva for our team, keeping Virgin Atlantic’s brand identity colours so it’s tailored to their company.

Pitch Outcome: The clients liked the idea of the pilot as well as the cloud interior of the packaging, but suggested the naming “Sleepy Pilot” could be adjusted, so it doesn’t give the wrong idea about the plane’s pilot. They chose my concept to be merged with Calm, Mindfulness and Optical Illusions teams. (Extra: They enjoyed the idea of the dancing hot-dog, as it was something they haven’t seen before).

Dream Box – merged design with the other 3 teams

Merging four completely different ideas with 12 people was a challenge, especially with my contrasting calm clouds concept from Sleepy Pilot and the chaotic illusions from the Optical Illusions team. We got together and managed to find a common idea around our topic, which is that many passengers face anxiety and discomfort during their flight, so we wanted to have a relaxational, calming effect with the design of our box. We came up with “Dream Box” and divided the team in two:

  1. People making the deck to present to the client
  2. People designing the packaging of the box

I was part of the 2nd team, in charge of creating the typeface, part of the interior of the box and then printing and making the box to send to the client. With the team we collected these references of art direction that we wanted to go for:

The concept:

  • Box design is adorned with optical illusion effects that make passengers feel more relaxed/calm.
  • Diffuses sandalwood aroma to help passengers relax.
  • QR code printed on the box that enables access to an augmented reality menu when scanned, offers numerous ways to relax.

Our thought process behind the design colours focuses on the sunset and sunrise – both are visible when flying and provide a natural, calming scenery. We’ve incorporated the sunset on the outside of the packaging with darker, contrasting colours and sunset on the inside with lighter, muted colours, along with waves that are made to imitate a calm and gentle movement, in part with soothing optical illusions to slow down any possible worries – As well as enticing the passenger to inspect the package more.

After we chose the colour palette I created this handwritten typeface with a 3D effect in Illustrator:

I also created these illustrated illusion for the bottom of the box:

After the others from the team wrote the messaging inside the interior I made the text that would be inside the box:

With Sam’s gradient illustrations for the inside of the box I reworked it so it fits in the packaging:

Interior would include the sunrise colours, combining lines and gradient shapes along with optical illusion bottom.

However, once the others made the exterior of the box we found that the sizing they used and the file they created wasn’t ready for printing so I had to stay in uni and rework it, which was really time-consuming and if I could go back in time I’d rather have only one person in charge of resizing artworks for the final actual dimensions and cut lines of the box. Here’s how the exterior turned out with the added QR code:

Exterior represents the sunset, with dark and vivid colours as the lines fold into endless motion.

Then I created this tray liner mockup for the deck:

The concept behind this packaging is to relax passengers during their flight, easing their anxieties, soothing all the senses. For our Dream Box we mainly focused on creating optical illusive patterns and colours for the packaging designed to relax passengers, and then we added an AR menu that offers numerous other ways for passengers to relax just from their phone.

After making the visuals, with a few of my teammates (Amanda, Ray, Priscilla) we went to print out the packaging and to prepare everything for the folder we had to deliver to the client. Ray also took some photos for our deck.

Final Deck


In conclusion, it was quite hard to pull the merging of four concepts off, but I think we managed to do it. The client’s decision to merge so many teams together made everything more confusing as we had gone for completely different art direction and contrasting visuals, yet we were chosen to be teamed up. I personally went back to see what he liked in each team’s ideas so we can ensure that when we combine the 4 teams we would give him exactly what he imagined in his head, but since the feedback I know that the design turned out not “Virgin Atlantic” enough. Even when you read about the brand and research their values, it could come to situations like that and what I took out of this is that even if we have so little time, communicating with the client would have been key. We would know whether we’re taking it in the right direction or we’re doing completely the opposite of what he though in his head. On the other hand, sometimes it felt like some people weren’t contributing as much as others – me, Nawang, Samuels and Amanda did most of the work, while people like Roman didn’t do anything, and the others just doing a small part (you can see that out of 12 people it wasn’t all 12 of us putting equal effort). But altogether, I was quite happy with how we managed to operate and deliver in the given deadline for a team of 12 people.


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