Meet Cameron Fasola, packaging engineer at Fitbit and our second guest judge for the 2017 PPA Student Design Challenge.
Cameron graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology and Packaging. His exceptional student career included a successful internship with Amazon Lab 126 and recognition as the Cal Poly Packaging Department’s Outstanding Student of the Year. Since graduation, Cameron has been working as a packaging engineer at Fitbit in San Francisco, California. At Fitbit, he has launched 17 different stock keeping units for eight separate products, with more on the way!
PPA: What attracted you to the paperboard packaging industry?
CF: I fell into the Packaging Program at Cal Poly by accident. I did not enjoy my business classes and wanted the opportunity to get my hands dirty. My friend showed me his Industrial Technology and Packaging labs. Within a day I was filing for a change of major and I haven’t looked back since. One of the aspects I love most about the paperboard packaging industry is the versatility of what I get to work on every day. Some days, I am an engineer who gets to test and break things; others, I am working with Industrial Design and marketing to create a product that sells itself on the shelf; and some, I am travelling to teach factories how to make my designs a reality.
PPA: What does your typical work day look like?
CF: My day always starts with a big breakfast. From there, I am checking emails to see what has developed overseas the night before. I usually have meetings with suppliers up until lunch. (Lunch winds up being Chipotle 90 percent of the time). After lunch, I have meetings to align with the Product Development team and then I have the rest of the day to design, ideate, test, and innovate. I like to finish the workday at the gym (we are a fitness company after all), and if I am lucky, I will have a few calls with the Asia teams before dinner.
PPA: Why do you prefer to work with paperboard?
CF: Paper is a natural material. It looks and feels high quality, it is sustainable, and it is strong. I am constantly looking for greener solutions and paper is always at the top of that list.
PPA: What stands out to you when you look at packaging?
CF: Creativity. Anyone can make a box, but a package jumps out when it integrates new geometries, creative unboxing mechanisms, and interesting consumer interactions.
PPA: What is your favorite package you designed for a product and why?
CF: I just made a new mechanism on an upcoming Fitbit accessory that eliminates glue. The old design entailed gluing trays into a rigid box. This new one entails tabs on the tray that lock into a cutout in the rigid box. It won’t be noticed by 99 percent of customers, but I have been geeking out over it for months.
PPA: What do you hope to see from this year’s Student Design Challenge entries?
CF: Something new! I love seeing a solution to a problem that I never would have thought of. Truly successful packaging is all about an enjoyable, seamless customer interaction.
PPA: What do you hope to see in the future of paperboard packaging? And what are the most essential skills new designers need to bring into the industry?
CF: Adopting the natural look of paper. Too many companies want something that is natural and sustainable but also looks homogenous and perfect. As a natural substance, paper will always be “flawed.” I hope to see designers and companies embrace paper’s texture and imperfections – that is part of the fun!