Jan Činčera studied Secondary Graphic School, Paper handling and packing technology department. He was truly influenced by meeting J.H.Kocman in 1983, who showed him that paper is not only industrial but also poetic material. His opinion has been very important to him up to the present day. Before the revolution in 1989 he worked at Packaging Engineering Centre of Prague Paper Factories. After the revolution he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts as an Assistant of Professor Miloš Šejn in the Studio of Conceptual Tendencies. He was then interested in author paper and book above all. In 1994 he established a Studio with his wife Zora, which has been run by them up to the present day. He often cooperates on packaging design of other designers’ products: Jiří Pelcl, Eva Eisler, Rony Plesl, Olgoj Chorchoj and many others.
„I can say that I have been working with paper and thinking about it from the very beginning of my studies – since 1976. That is a very long time – maybe way too long."
„He can fold paper or cardboard as hardly anybody. His hands make these into various packages of unusual spatial shapes. When there were important foreign guests visiting Prague, it was him, who created packaging of presents dedicated from the head of state for the guests. It was e.g. the Pope John Paul II, French president Jacques Chirac or British queen Elisabeth II. “ Petr Melničuk, Hospodářské noviny
You have been chairing the judgment panel of the Young Packaging Contest from the very beginning in 1996. How has the contest changed over the 14 years of its existence?
The contest shaped quite fast and we had to clear the sense of the contest with Mr. Wicha, the representative of Model Obaly Company: not using the enrolled works immediately, but turning the contestants loose, letting them free and not pushing them into concrete results, rather initiate, support and attract their attention...The contest got settled, but it stopped developing in the course of time and current changes – its transformation carried out by CZECHDESIGN.CZ – seem very important and positive to me!
What does the Young Packaging Contest mean to you?
Young Packaging means to me meeting young people and their works above all, friendship with many has come to existence due to the contest and this is a key contribution of the contest to me.
How have the tendencies in packaging design changed since the time you started attending to these up to the present day?
Packaging design is not such a fashion that would change tendencies in accordance with seasons. It develops gradually as a reflection of new materials, new technologies. I cannot forget plastic materials, which have started to assert in the polygraphic industry very fast.
Young Packaging is an international contest. Can you assess what country is doing well in the field of packaging design? Are there countries where the tradition of packaging design has been downright treasured up?
We cannot really talk about long-time dominancy of a certain country. Anyway, in recent years (three four years) Canada has been the leading country, namely a professor, who is able to work with his students perfectly and their results are very persuasive. Talking about Czech educational institutions I always remember secondary technical school from Uherské Hradiště; also Polish works are interesting. We were surprised to find out that Chinese works – works of paper and packaging world-power - were not that compelling.
As you know the contest has been the subject of substantial transformation currently. What should be the future direction of the contest in your opinion?
What should be the future direction of the contest? It has its direction already and I am glad to be a part of it. It is directed at the young through young people, who live in it, they are not conservative, they are rather sincere enthusiasts. They have all my admiration. The contest’s results cannot be perfect in the aspect of construction or technology - i.e. ready-made packaging. The contest must initiate, provide options of probing new materials, working with space, realizing the importance of packaging design.
What material do you like best to work with?
I do not have “my” materials. Every order is a challenge to me, I think and seek; I try hard to make the packed object unite with the comprehensive solution and material. My work, the work of packaging designer, is a service, support of the packed object, no matter if it’s a mug, glass or book… I like to look for materials and try to work with “not packing” materials.
Do the participants in your opinion make use of material options sufficiently?
The contestants have to understand the material, they have to know its characteristics, make use of these. This is the difference from other contests - we insist on working with the material in volume, in material, we insist on the model, readymade packaging in space.
Has the Young Packaging Contest influenced your own work in any way?
The Young Packaging Contest has definitely influenced me indirectly, in relationships above all. I forget concrete results of the contest, the packages, immediately and I try to keep my mind clear for my work.
How do you picture the future of packaging design?
I often think about the future of packaging design and I am sure about one thing – new intelligent materials will spring (they have already) that apart from protecting and marketing will be able to communicate, change colors, watch the quality of the goods, signalize change of the packed goods etc. Paper, plastic and polygraphic technologies will not advance that fast but scientific research will change the essence of packaging and its significance.
What are the features of quality packaging?
Packaging must be above all functional, captivating, addressing; it must be simply beautiful!