meet Jamal, the creator of our incredible new packaging

an interview with creative director Jamal Merdassi, the genius behind the new 100% recyclable mahabis curve box.  

“Design has always been about creating an experience, not just for the customer and consumer, but an experience and understanding of the whole process.” Jamal Merdassi. 

Jamal Merdassi is the Creative Director of East London based creative agency MyDesignCompany. He has worked with a vast array of brands from Liberty to Pantone and has now collaborated with the mahabis team to design our beautiful 100% recyclable box for the new mahabis curve launch. Perfect for gift wrapping this Christmas. Here he talks to Olly from our marketing team, and explains his intelligent approach to designing thoughtful packaging for our new world.

question one: what’s your unique design process? 

 “As a company, we don't just do packaging, we look at the broader picture, we look at the full cycle. So it's more of an understanding of the process from concept to conception. Sometimes it's packaging, sometimes it's a product, and sometimes it's a brand. And if we're lucky, we get to do all three. What drives me is understanding all of the elements required for all three, and then being able to relay them in such a way that it creates an experience. One that has the beauty of simplicity within it.”

question two: the mind-blowing design concept of the mahabis curve box is that it’s made from one single piece of cardboard. like a beautiful piece of origami. how difficult was that for you to design?

“To begin the design process, we always want to understand the unique values that define a brand. For mahabis it’s simplicity, comfort and quality. And another element that we felt was really important to highlight was the craftsmanship and process that goes into creating mahabis footwear. Nobody else creates footwear as you do. The first starting point is sketching and thinking about structurally how things work, asking ourselves whether it has the strength to actually hold the product. We had to source a material that has agility to it and think of a way to construct the box without glue – an important factor for mahabis’ mission to work towards a more sustainable future. It was really important that we took an environmentally responsible approach to how we designed your packaging.” 

question three: how many concepts did you go through before you reached the final box design?

“There were probably around nine to 12 concepts in total. There was a route that used felt fibre where the cardboard was wrapped over. And then we had the single cardboard approach. But then within each of those concepts, there were probably three to four variations of how we would get to that point. We see the process of design as a journey between two parties, it has to be a collaboration. We call this journey the four ‘Ds’. So we have ‘discovery’, which is an understanding of the brand. And then we have to ‘define’, which is where the partnership is most crucial because whatever decision is made then is what the final outcome is going to be. And then we finalise through ‘development’ and ‘delivery.’


question four: were there any challenges with designing the mahabis curve box during lockdown/ remotely?

“I would say the most challenging elements of working on a project remotely is when you're dealing with a physical item like packaging. Usually, you would all meet face-to-face to touch the materials or samples to understand the technical elements and how they correlate with the product, in this case, the mahabis curve. From a prototyping point of view, all of our manufacturing printers closed down when everybody went into lockdown in the UK.  The first prototypes were constructed by hand, and then several copies had to be made to send to all the team at mahabis, which definitely elongated the process!”

question five: where do you get your inspiration from?

“My inspiration comes from communication. I get inspiration from immersing myself in varied sectors and lifestyles and communicating with different types of people. There's always transferable knowledge that comes from engaging with different lifestyles. It’s all about learning from other resources and then almost uniting them together. On top of that, I love cycling and running as they free your brain. I actually find doing those types of sports is more about quietening my busy mind.”

Discover more about Jamal Merdassi’s inspiration and upcoming projects via the MyDesignCompany website.