Appalachian students develop packaging concepts for global design leader WestRock

By Micheal Rall

During the Fall 2016 semester, students in Appalachian State University’s Industrial Design Program in the Department of Applied Design partnered with WestRock® Design Studio to create innovative new packaging concepts. The students were part of the Industrial Design Studio, an intensive, hands-on, project-based course led by Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Michael Rall and WestRock’s Senior Designer of Global Design Andrew Peeler.

Students were placed in teams of two and were tasked with developing a new beverage brand from the ground up. Throughout the course, students drew on WestRock’s industry and design expertise to develop high impact solution that would meet brand owners’ needs while exceeding consumer expectations. The teams were responsible for identifying the target market, conducting field research, developing design concepts, graphics and prototypes and pitching their final products to a team of WestRock’s designers.

Berkley Wilcox, one of the student designers, described the process of working with his teammate as a collaborative effort. "No idea for the project was our own” he said. “As soon as my partner Liz or I had a notion the other person would take it and run with it."

Throughout the course, students were in close contact with three WestRock designers — Peeler, Designer II Linh Kooc and Design Strategist Sara Falcon — who provided feedback, insight and encouragement.

The course concluded with a final presentation, including a showcase of packaging prototypes, to the three WestRock designers and head of Global Design Brad Walling. The WestRock team then awarded Berkley Wilcox and his teammate Liz Waters top honors for their concept, a unique four-pack basket for Kopana Craft Soda, based on the technical performance of their solution, the innovative design and the applicability and relevance to the market space.

“The feasibility of our design was the most time-consuming part of the project and led to countless prototypes,” remarked Waters. “While the process was long, it was well worth it since Berkley and I are both proud of our final concept.”

The WestRock team also enjoyed the experience and praised the students for their hard work.

“These student designers brought such a fresh perspective to innovating for these exciting and growing segments,” said Peeler. “We are eager to further develop these concepts into scalable solutions, and hope the students will see packages on the store shelf one day soon that were inspired by their creativity.”

About WestRock

WestRock partners with customers to provide differentiated paper and packaging solutions that help them win in the marketplace. WestRock’s 39,000 team members support customers around the world from more than 250 operating and business locations spanning North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Learn more at

About Industrial Design

The industrial design program at Appalachian State University is housed in the Department of Applied Design and includes concentrations in furniture and product design.

Concentrations focus on design inquiry, creative problem solving, user research, social and environmental concerns and manufacturing requirements. Through industry collaborations and studio projects, students are challenged to develop a comprehensive knowledge base allowing them to compete as professionals.

The Department of Applied Design also includes the Apparel Design and Merchandising program and the Interior Design program, and is one of seven departments housed in Appalachian’s College of Fine and Applied Arts.

About Appalachian

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

Industrial Design Studio students
Published: Jan 19, 2017 2:41pm