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angle-left Interview with Adam Ryan Head of Pentawards
01 July 2020

Interview with Adam Ryan Head of Pentawards

The gala ceremony to announce the winner of the 14th Pentawards Edition is to take place in October and Tapì will be an official sponsor for the competition.

The difficult times we are all living through may well change Pentawards plans. So, we decided to interview Adam Ryan, Head of Pentawards, to tell us how such an influential event is dealing with these issues and what its plans are to survive in the future.


  1. What are Pentawards and how did the competition come to be established?

Pentawards is the first and most prestigious global competition exclusively dedicated to packaging design.


Founded in Belgium, in 2007, Pentawards was created by husband and wife Jean Jacques and Brigitte Evrard. The couple who both had degrees in design, founded the design agency Carré Noir and the Desgrippes Gobé group.


In October 2016, Pentawards was acquired by Easyfairs, a global top 20 exhibition and events business which has an extensive packaging event portfolio.


Over the last few years, Pentawards has grown, it is now not only a competition, but it provides a core source of inspiration to connect the global packaging community. This is done through its annual gala ceremony, international conferences, winner exhibitions, networking events, social media platforms and books.


Our mission is to promote packaging design, add value and connect our beautiful community.


  1. Pentawards are the highest accolade in packaging design. Including both sponsors and exhibitors, how many businesses are involved in this global competition?

This years competition has been another record breaking year, we received over 2,000 entries from 60 countries across 5 continents, with top contributing countries including Russia, Spain, China, the US and the UK. Nearly 400 entries have been shortlisted across the six main categories of the competition, which hold a total of 59 sub-categories.

We have 4 main sponsors UPM Raflatac (Finland), Reflex (United Kingdom), Shenzhen Baixinglong Creative Packaging  Co.,Ltd (China) and of course Tapi (Italy). Each sponsor is from a different sector of the packaging supply chain and we are very proud of our the global representation from our sponsors.

We also have strong relationships with globally recognised media partners, associations and exhibitions such as; the European Packaging Design Association (EPDA) based in Germany, Packaging Premiere (Italy) and etapes (France).


  1. What does winning a Pentawards prize mean?

Winning a Pentaward is seen by many to be the highest accolade globally for packaging design. Winning a Pentaward can be the pinnacle of many creative careers especially as the international jury who chose the winners are their peers.

I can honestly say we have a sensational jury and we are continuing to drive for a more diverse mix within our jury, ensuring we have representatives from different nationalities, ages, genders, educations, skill sets, experiences, knowledge and ethnicities.


This year’s jury is composed of members from 18 countries, across 3 continents, including first-time representatives from India, Denmark, Armenia, Switzerland and Brazil. We have also expanded with the inclusion of a wide mix of design agencies, brands and cooperation’s which include; Lego, Nestle, Amazon, Microsoft, Shiseido & Facebook.


Being a Pentaward winner is more than just a trophy it’s the industry kudos and opportunities that follow. Winners receive invaluable exposure through worldwide press, live events, website, social platforms and media coverage. Winners are also featured in the world famous and best seller ‘The Package Design Book’ which is distributed to more than 60 countries.

Being a Pentawards winner can be life changing, it can help win new business, build confidence, connect with peers, launch careers and fulfil dreams. Having the opportunity to celebrate such great achievements especially on stage at our gala ceremony allows the winners to be seen by the global packaging design community.


  1. How will future Pentawards events change with the new social distancing restrictions?

We are optimistic that we will hold our gala ceremony in October, however, the safety of the judges, staff and participants is of upmost importance to us during this challenging time. We have to be realistic and consider other alternatives just in case it’s not possible to hold a live event.


Around the world many large organisations and brands have opted to keep moving and holding their events online. Take Giorgio Armani who live streamed their Milan fashion show from an empty event space in the city or festivals going online, these events are have hit some big numbers and you can still communite and connect with your target audience.


Over the last few months, we launched a series of Instagram Takeovers hosted by top creatives and designers to help share some positivity, inspiration, and tips for those working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. This has worked extremely well and has actually reached more people than we anticipated. Taking this as an example, we could consider an online gala ceremony option.


Easyfairs will implement new safety measures to protect its staff, clients and partners at our exhibitions by introducing new rules depending on different government guidelines and laws. For instance introducing social distancing rules, strict cleaning measures, introducing more checks which will include temperature checks with thermal imaging cameras, extending show days and opening hours, one way systems and maybe restricting numbers. We currently have a system called ‘Easy Go’ which allows exhibitors and visitors to scan each other’s badges, so totally contactless and safe.


Whatever we decide, we will ensure it’s to the highest level, our commitment is to provide support to our community during this time and to ensure we continue to celebrate creativity in packaging design.


  1. Do you think that packaging design industry will be negatively affected by global pandemic?

I’m an optimist and I generally see that the glass is half full not half empty, though in this climate it has been tough.

People are doing what they do best… evolving and adapting. Some amazing examples of businesses who are adapting to the situation are alcohol distillers turning their efforts towards making hand sanitizers or car manufacturers using their factories to make ventilators.

During times like this research shows that product innovation will slow but brand innovation will increase. So, brands will be finding new ways to engage with consumers and packaging will be a huge one. I think connected packaging will start to play a big part, especially with the opportunity to use QR codes to learn more about a product without touching it. Designers will design more for the home rather than the self.

From our Instagram takeovers I would like to share some great quotes from 3 packaging design experts which sums up the COVID-19 experience:

Steve Honour, Design Manager Europe & Africa at Diageo and Pentawards Jury Member:


“We are in lockdown, but our creativity isn’t”

Carolina Alzate Alvarez, CEO of OpenLab and Pentawards Jury Member:


"This moment of uncertainty is an opportunity to create something new"

Karim Rashid, Designer


“Design needs to regain that sense of feeling, aesthetic, and problem solving”

Mauro Porcini, Senior VP & Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo


“Real design is about us as human beings, our talent and ability to create something that is meaningful for the world and for others. Right now that’s more important than ever”


“The next decade of innovation will be the most consequential of all time”. This is a quote from Forbes in 2019 and with recent events this will speed things up even more.

Designers, brands, packaging suppliers /manufacturers have been really focused on sustainability over the last few years and this will be a key industry shaping trend, but it will be now be defined alongside hygiene and consumer safety concerns. During the pandemic there has been widespread use of ecommerce and many brands will need to step up whilst facing pressure with cost.


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