The process of creating products and packaging at the Croatian Monetary Institute

From the series of posts about the design process – we present how the development of products and packaging at the Croatian Monetary Institute unfolded

For the Croatian Monetary Institute, we designed the product, conceived the packaging concept for commemorative medals, and handled the overall communication and design of individual product lines.

The basis of the project is the design of distinctive packaging suitable for various commemorative medals and special product lines of the Croatian Monetary Institute, adding value to the product and making these traditional items more accessible to a wider and younger audience, not just collectors.

The project includes the conceptualization and design of the products themselves – commemorative medals produced in gold and silver variants.

Conceptual solution

The presentation of ideation solutions included a creative strategy aimed at expanding into new target groups in the Croatian market, primarily attracting a younger audience looking for an attractive and lasting gift for various special occasions. Secondly, it was necessary to design a product and packaging that would enable expansion into other markets in the region and worldwide.

Two solutions were selected for acquisition and implementation. The ‘Day’ line, within which two products have been currently realized – a wedding commemorative medal and a commemorative medal for the Holy Confirmation occasion, and the ‘Cross’ line with medals for various Christian occasions. As part of this line, a regular edition and a special Limited series executed in the technique of copper engraving have been realized.

The solution includes two sub-lines for silver and gold variant medals. For the Limited series of ‘Day’ proposal medals, a wooden base for the inner part of the box has been suggested, crafted from various types of wood depending on the theme.

One of the box options was a circular version. A square presentation box, a so-called ‘display’ box, was chosen, with a diagonally placed panel on which the medal rests. The rigid box is visible with silver or gold details, depending on whether the medal is in the gold or silver variant.

The part of the box that holds the medal is designed to seamlessly blend the medal design with the graphics on the presentation part of the box, making the packaging an integral part of the gift product.

Product Design – medals

The design of the medal itself was a very interesting and challenging part of the process. It is a product of smaller dimensions, where it is possible to achieve more or less pronounced relief surfaces, subtly engraved structures, and different surface treatments – from high gloss to entirely matte surfaces. When designing this product, it is essential to consider that the medal is experienced not only visually but also tactically.

The back of the medal is intended for personalization, so the design included both variable and unchangeable elements for each line, as well as the selection of several different fonts for engraving personalized messages from customers.

In the ‘Dan’ line, the front side of the medal is a contemporary interpretation of motifs representing significant moments in life (holy confirmation, wedding, graduation, etc.), whose 3D form emerges from the lines of wood grain passing through the medal. As important events are forever etched in our memories, moments in time are forever recorded in the annual rings of a tree.

Other motifs within the ‘Dan’ line were also designed, such as motifs for birth, graduation celebration, birthday celebration, and other key events in our lives. Medals with these motifs will gradually be introduced to the market, expanding the ‘Dan’ product line.

The front side of the ‘Cross’ medal is a contemporary interpretation of the basic Christian symbol – the cross. The design uses the contrast of glossy and matte surfaces, as well as subtle engraved structures, to depict the layers of the theme within a pure geometric form.

The final versions of the products, finishing touches, and prototypes were executed in collaboration with the technologists of the Croatian Monetary Institute.”

Packaging Design and the “Dan” Line

The process of developing the packaging design involves exploring the form and material of the box. The design task focuses on functional presentation packaging, where the presentation base is inclined, as this type of product is usually presented at celebrations and is often proudly shown to all present guests.

The process of making a hard laminated box begins with the creation of a draft and a prototype, which is made from the same materials and thickness as the final box, only without printing. The medals need to fit into precise positions within the box to the millimeter, and the booklet with the certificate is placed in the upper part above the presentation base of the box, which is why it is glued only on three sides. Trial prototypes of the presentation wooden base proposed for Limited editions have also been created.

On the packaging of the “Dan” line, a combination of offset printing, thermography providing a tactile experience, and foil printing were used. The foil printing indicates whether there is a silver or gold variant of the medal in the packaging. The design is based on subtly balanced relationships between materials and techniques, putting the product and messages at the forefront.

The process also involved extensive testing of different typographies, both for packaging design needs and for personalizing medals, where specific technical requirements needed to be met.

View the complete product and packaging design project “Dan” by the Croatian Monetary Institute.

Design of the special Limited Edition of the “Križ” line

“Križ” is a commemorative medal, a gift for various Christian occasions (baptism, first communion, etc.). The contemporary design of the medal is integrated with an illustration of traditional style – a cross in the landscape infused with spiritual experience, along with the message of St. Francis of Assisi, “It is in giving that we receive.”

The regular edition of this product combines offset and foil printing techniques and is available in commercial quantities. The special Limited Edition is executed in copperplate engraving and foil printing.

The process of developing the packaging design and handcrafting adds extra value to this product.

The creation of the illustration begins with sketching the composition that aligns with the exact size of the cross on the medal. The cross is printed on the packaging using the foil printing technique, in silver for the silver variant of the medal and in gold for the gold variant.

The illustration is made by drawing on an enlarged scale, scanned, processed, and set into a draft in the exact dimensions for offset printing. For the copperplate engraving technique, the drawing is transferred in reverse onto a metal plate.

The originally crafted illustration is then transferred to the box lid, and in the limited edition, it is produced as signed original artwork.

Copperplate engraving is a graphic technique of intaglio printing. It involves applying printing ink into the engraved grooves of a plate (matrix) containing the drawing. After applying the ink, the plate is thoroughly cleaned so that the ink remains only in the engraved lines. The impression is transferred onto durable and elastic paper. A fabric is placed over each sheet of paper, and then all these layers pass through an intaglio printing press. Since the process is done manually, each print is a unique original artistic piece.

One of the challenges was making the print on a lower paper weight to allow the print to be laminated onto the box lid. Since papers tend to expand or contract during printing due to moisture, this “paper behavior” needs to be considered when entering the press. The finished copperplate engravings then undergo foil printing and, finally, lamination onto the box lid.

The production of this packaging, as well as the Limited Edition, is an extremely demanding process that involved almost the entire team of our studio, including an academic graphic artist, several printers, and packaging manufacturers.

Natalija Najjar, Izvorka Jurić, and Jurica Kos in the studio of academic printmaker Valentina Šuljić.

The limited series consists of 40 signed box covers with a reproduction of the copperplate engraving, which is signed with a pencil in the final stage. The artwork’s title, year, print number, and the total edition of the series are indicated.

With this limited edition reproduction, each box becomes a unique piece of art, making the packaging itself an exhibit of special value, rather than just a “wrapper” for a special gift inside.

You can view the complete product and packaging design project “Križ” by the Croatian Monetary Institute.

Creative Team: Izvorka Jurić (creative and art direction, packaging design), Ana Banic Göttlicher (creative idea “Dan”), Ana Banic Göttlicher and Izvorka Jurić (coin design “Dan”), Igor Poturić (verbal communication), Jurica Kos (design collaborator), Marko Koržinek (coin design “Križ,” design collaborator), Izvorka Jurić and Jurica Kos (Illustration/graphics “Križ”), Dr. art. Valentina Šuljić (reproduction of graphics – etching “Križ”), Natalija Najjar (production manager)
Production: Igepa Plana (paper), Markek (technical drawings, production of laminated boxes, foil stamping), Laser profi forma (tools), Ceh printing house (thermography), “Naša djeca” printing house (offset printing), Fibel (etching plates)
Photography: Jurica Kos