In a sea of similar items, how do you make your product packaging stand out? One of our favorite ways is by complicating it a little with 2016’s coolest packaging trend. Designers are imbuing their designs with texture, giving packaging a tactile quality that drives shoppers to grab them off the shelf.

A great way to accomplish this tactility is by adding a pattern to your package. A play off of color and shape that gives a little hint as to what’s inside, or tells a story without using words. Designers have been doing this for ages, but if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that the kinds of aesthetic stories they tell change from year to year.

Here are five different ways for you to work with the hottest 2016 packaging trend – using patterns to create textural design and to stand out from the crowd:

1. Paper pulp

Playing off of the all-natural, eco-friendly design trend is the paper-pulp pattern in packaging design (try saying that five times fast!) In an imitation of the imperfections found in hand-made sheets, these companies imbue high-quality texture into their designs without the price that comes hand-in-hand with using those limited-quantity materials.

Paper pulp
Paper pulp
Paper pulp
Paper pulp
Paper pulp

2. Marbling

A technique that implied high class for centuries, paper marbling has long wrapped itself around some seriously fine products. And over the last couple of years, designers have been devising  original takes on this age-old concept to create unique packaging — whether it’s following a rough pattern in black and white or creating swaths of smooth bright palettes.

Marbling
Marbling
Marbling
Marbling
Marbling

3. Topographic maps

Oh, the places we will go — in the design industry that is, using our topo-themed wrappers as guides. Line art has taken over the logo design world and similarly, these intricate maps composed of thin contours have found their way into the design surrounding all sorts of products, particularly those in the food and beverage industries.

Whether the marketing strategy is to focus on the item’s exotic origin or it’s local production, it’s a trendy and clean way to reference location.

Topographic maps
Topographic maps
Topographic maps
Topographic maps
Topographic maps

4. Polka dots

Polka dots are an inescapable cultural phenomenon — and one that cycles in and out of style almost as frequently as it’s popular partner, the stripe. We’ve been seeing more and more of these blots around lately, and whether they’re uniform and symmetrical or scattered and nebulous, there’s something distinctly attractive about all of those small things in big numbers.

polka dots
polka dots
polka dots
polka dots
polka dots

5. Narrative

Some of our favorite motifs this year sit astride a very thin line between pattern and illustration. With enough flow and repetition, narrative drawings can function as patterns, as demonstrated by our examples below.

And so whether the pattern is dependent on symmetry, a linear or non-linear storytelling pattern, they provide a backdrop to entertain for hours.

Narrative
Narrative
Packaging Trend: Narrative
Packaging Trend: Narrative
Packaging Trend: Narrative

Liked this article? Check out 2015’s hottest packaging trends.