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Graphic design student’s entry among top 50 in international packaging contest

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Jeff Buterbaugh, a senior in the Graphic Design program at Penn State, had his design selected as one of the top 50 out of entries from more than 65 countries in the international Model Young Package 2019 competition.

This year’s theme of “Unboxing Experience” forced designers to think about the ways in which the packaging, function, environment and unboxing experience of a product combine.

Entry to the competition was required as part of Buterbaugh’s “Applied Communications” course during the spring semester. Students blindly selected a product from a hat and were challenged to design packaging for that product that would be a memorable experience for the user when they “unbox” it.

Buterbaugh selected lighting as his product and said he was eager to get to work on a design that would make an impact. He had to figure out how to design packaging that would accommodate shipping a lighting piece and its components – including light bulbs – that would remain intact and undamaged when it reached its destination. But it was a challenge he was eager to accept.

“It really was exciting because I was tasked with designing something that would have some theatrical flare to it when it is unboxed and I love that angle,” he said.

While searching for inspiration, Buterbaugh said he looked at some of the topographic models Penn State architecture students had created by laser-cutting cardboard and assembling it in layers.

“I got the idea that I could invert the method used in those models to create a secure shipping container for the components, particularly for the lightbulbs,” he explained.

The result of Buterbaugh’s work was Glo packaging, which impressed jurors of the Model Young competition enough to be featured in an exhibition of the top submissions over the summer in Prague.

Buterbaugh found out about his finish in the competition while he was interning in New York City with Marathon Digital, a social media company that specializes in content creation for Broadway shows. Marathon was founded by 2011 Penn State theatre alumnus Mike Karns who serves as the company’s CEO.

“I received the email about my design while working in the Marathon office. Their team was very proud of me and my classmates were also very congratulatory when I later texted them about it,” said Buterbaugh.

Organized by Czechdesign for Model Obaly, Model Young Package has achieved an international reputation among competitions for young designers since its inception in 1996. With a focus on packages made of paper, those who submit entries are challenged to create designs made of corrugated and smooth cardboard or other paper materials widely used in packaging design.

Seven views of Glo packaging including close ups.
Portrait of Jeff Buterbaugh standing with his arms folded in front of the graphic design sign in the senior studio space.