Unboxing Story

How could an unboxing experience enhance the meaning of a gift and reduce the waste created by packaging?

In this project, I decided to regift to my mom the swan keychain she gave me when I was a child to express my appreciation for this small object and its value to me. Although it is very beautiful and a brand name, it is not without flaws due to overtime wear. I focused on expressing the object's history and meaning to me as opposed to its physical appearance and materialism. My mom has a matching frog keychain that is equally battered but well-loved, which I created a space for in the box.

Project type: Individual
Duration: 2 weeks (Fall 2017)


I decided to tell the story in two layers through the box. The outer box has 4 flaps to be opened in a specific sequence indicated by Chinese characters, revealing an illustrated narrative of the keychain.

The cut-out lid inside has the Chinese proverb "瑕不掩瑜", which translates to "flaws do not obscure beauty or virtue". Inside, the swan keychain is in a perfectly fitted compartment, and there is a space for my mom to put her matching frog keychain. 

Ideally, when there is nothing in the box, the heart is black. When one keychain is placed, half the heart turns red; when both keychains are placed, the heart becomes "complete". The heart can be seen even when the box is repackaged, so one can tell whether the keychain(s) are in the box.



The Story


Ideation + Sketches




Concept Model Prototype


I prototyped a concept model to test whether the heart would "change colour" if something was placed in the box.

After a long period of brainstorming, I eventually implemented a spring mechanism where there would be a piece of black paper behind the red heart, which would be a transparent material tinted red. The black paper is attached to the compartment for the keychain, so when the keychain is placed in the compartment and it sinks, the black paper would also lower away from the red heart, resulting in the "colour change".