The Piano Shop Bath-Care Kit

A luxury piano care kit that gives the user the ability to maintain their instrument



UX packaging project (industry).


October 2020 - May 2022


Product Design, UX Design


As the lead designer on an industry packaging project, I adopted a UX design methodology to animate a luxurious feeling for an original idea.

Foremost, I took a product design approach and inserted vital user input to make it more orientated to a specific experience. Utilising a RIDL format, I focused on both key ideation and the development process, as the projects' budget drew attention here.

In response to budgetary limitations, my responsibilities stretched beyond the design space. I was also required to lead on acquisition and supply, areas that I quickly became proficient in.


To design and develop a piano care and cleaning kit for the user base of  The Piano Shop Bath. To be sold as either a individual kit or alongside a piano purchase.

Design Process


Secondary research
• Other kits within brief boundaries
Primary Research
• Professional knowledge and focus group


Generation Methods
• Co-creation ideas
• Modelling
• Plausible avenues
Evaluation Methods
• Negative Selection
• Concept Screening


• Out of box experience testing
• Development because of item availability
• Journey Mapping
• Task analysis - Instructions
• Brainstorming with user group
• User and packaging relationship


• Rigid cardboard box manufacture
• Other Item acquisition
• Production line

Secondary Research

To gain a deeper understanding of what the owner of The Piano Shop Bath wanted from this project, a meeting was carried out where antecedents on the market of other kits were analysed and discussed. This was to pin point the specific wants and desires from him and so I could get an insight into his vision. Boxes were shown in two categories: cardboard and wood/other materials.

This session revealed some key project details such as that the contents of the box were still undecided out of a large collection that were regularly sold by The Piano Shop Bath. It also revealed the project pricing and that the preferred box material would be rigid cardboard.

Primary Research

The owner of the shop had vast knowledge in piano care which he had gained over decades of experience, from looking after the pianos in his showroom and suggesting self-tested products to his clients. This gave him fantastic personal insight into what products should appear in the kit. However, before we continued it would firstly be important to understand what The Piano Shop Bath's brand represented and what he and his clientele associated with it. By discovering this, it would give me an idea of the key traits that have contributed to making the shop a success over the years, and subsequently what should be reflected in the kit to uphold it's ambience.

Focus Group

A focus group of 4 patrons was used to understand opinions and attitudes towards the brand with their individual experiences being the driving point of the conversation. By leading an informal discussion, I was able to gain and summarise these into defining terms that embodied the brand, which I could then inject into the experience later in the design process. The two that stood out were:

All felt the luxury of the brand when they stepped into the store, from the quality of the Pianos on display to the decor.
This was frequently mentioned in relation to the brand, as they were all aware of their refurbished pianos and The Piano Shop Bath's passion for restoration, which gave them additional incentive to support the business.


Ideation was split into two areas: external and internal shape. For both a single diamond shape was used which utilised idea generation and evaluation techniques to find the best suited ideas for the kit. These were then presented to the boss for evaluation and discussion.

External Shape

Research into cardboard rigid box manufacture revealed that there were only 3 possible box types which fell into the budget per unit. These 3 types were the draw style unit, shoe box style unit and the magnetic unit. Therefore due to these restrictions, ideation of the style would be limited to these. To communicate the types available, I made a 3D animation that showed how they functioned at the start of the ideation meeting with the client.

Originally, doodling and team brainstorming generated a multitude of ideas, which were cut down using negative selection into a handful to show to the boss. The A3 document with the last 18 ideas can be seen here.

From these, it was decided that the three below were the most suitable candidates, as they portrayed The Piano Shop Bath's brand and its luxury and stylish demeanour. Eventually, idea 6 was chosen to take forward into development.

Internal Shape

As a rough idea about the internal kit items were known at this stage, ideation could start with the layout inside the box. Firstly, doodling was used to allow quick, iterative idea generation. From here, the 6 most suitable ideas were taken and modelled so they could be viewed in a 3D format. As only the type of box being used had been decided and not the dimensions, it felt appropriate to experiment with different sized boxes that utilised different numbers of layers as well.

In the meeting following this modelling, it was decided that idea number 2 would be the one to be taken forward. This was because it's depth allowed for the items to be layered in such away which would allow the user longer and individual exposure to the every item separately, giving the sense of unpacking a gift and therefore a more special interaction. Also because of its standardised dimensions, it would cost less overall to manufacture, allowing it to stay safely within the proposed budget.


Now that the box type and rough inside layout were decided, it was time to develop the experience surrounding the use of the packaging. To look at this systematically, it was decided to break up the interaction with the user into 3 sections: first use, during use and after use. In this section you can find examples of development from all three stages.

First use

-Out of box experience testing with users
-Journey mapping

During use

-Development because of item availability
-Task Analysis Instructions

After use

-Brainstorming with user
-User and packaging relationship

Out of box experience testing

Out of box experience testing was conducted with 10 profile customers from The Piano Shop Bath who are frequent shoppers. They were asked to imagine that they had just been given this with a piano purchase or as a gift.

Participants were asked to unpack the box and narrate their thoughts whilst doing so. They were being recorded so both verbal and visual reactions could be monitored and used.

Experience Goal
This exercise was conducted in order to see if the users thought the product was luxurious enough and was in line with the brand. It also revealed common pitfalls in the unboxing user journey so that I could correct these touch points.

Test Results
This testing method raised many interesting insights into what was causing a dip in experience. The main change that arose was the strip that presents the instruction booklet and the hygrometer. Many users found it strangely weighted when they picked it up and struggled to remove the hygrometer without scratching it. As the hygrometer is one of the more expensive parts of the kit, users felt like there was less value and mystery with what was underneath the microfibre cloths, which put a dampener on the luxury experience. To rectify this, the hygrometer is now located below and the strip on top presents just the booklet. This also allows a more straight forward onboarding process, as the booklet immediately draws attention from the user.

Journey Mapping

This methodology was used to pinpoint moments of the packaging unboxing where the user's emotional response could be improved in order to achieve a more positive experience. To ensure map accuracy, it was based on the joint experience of three users. All were asked to narrate their positive and negative thoughts as they progressed through each step and then afterwards I decided the mean reaction of all of them and translated this onto the map.

As you can see, the map highlighted a few steps that it would be imperative to improve to make this product feel luxurious. Specifically steps 2,3,4 and 8. Below is how the packaging was changed and developed to increase the emotional response for these.

For all users the reason why they had a neutral response to this stage was that they struggled to initially get the kit out of the cardboard sender. This was because it was tight and this didn't leave much space to get a firm grip on the box.

Increasing Positive Response
To rectify this problem, a larger sized sender was used which allowed an increased space around the perimeter of the kit to grip it.

Other Benefits
As this was relatively close to the start of the journey, it was a great opportunity to gain a sense of luxury from the off. By using tissue paper here to wrap the box, it gives a sense of mystery like a present, making it feel increasingly luxurious. Also the tissue paper acts as a padding, which is useful for protection during transport.

When all users opened the magnetic box, they immediately commented that the layout didn't look as professional as they had hoped. This was because the items had moved around inside the box in the lead up to this exercise, causing the microfibre cloths to be out of line.

Increasing Positive Response
In order to solve this, the floating strip that held the instruction booklet needed to be developed and it's functionality needed to extend past just being a place holder. Through prototype trial and error, a new strip was designed that used the weight of the items inside to hold everything in place and still allowed easy access to the products underneath.

Both users found that when they placed the items back in the box after initial inspection, they didn't want to re-tie the ribbon around the parts as it was time consuming. This meant that the insides were loose and it looked messy, causing their impression of the kit's luxury to drop.

Increasing Positive Response
To improve the ease of returning items back to their uniform places inside the packaging, the use of ribbon was abandoned completely and a new Tetris style format was developed where items are kept in place by nothing but each other. Also, tolerances were made extremely marginal to keep heavier items such as sprays from having any wriggle room.

Other Benefits
By boycotting ribbon, the overall unit price per kit was reduced and the assembly time was cut significantly.

Following all these developments in the packaging design, a re-run of the Journey map was conducted with the same two users. As you can see in the graphic below, the emotional response was significantly improved across all the negative points.

Development because of item availability

All the way through from the start of research until the end of launch, items were being taken out and replaced because of availability. All together, the plan was to have enough merchandise to create 500 kits. But this became problematic as some of the high quality cleaning sprays and other items could only be sourced from Europe or America, therefore making finding a supplier that had enough stock difficult. Throughout the process, besides my design responsibilities I was also communicating with suppliers and problem solving stock issues. inevitably this had an impact on the design of the packaging as every item update meant that elements such as layout had to be re-considered.

Task Analysis- Instructions

As there is range of items available in the box there is the chance it could be overwhelming and lead to a type of feature fatigue. Previous research on this area indicates that negative emotional reactions could be caused by this such as stress, a direct result from product complexity. (Thompson et al, 2005) As the instruction booklet is the first point of contact between user and the kit inside, it is a great opportunity to show the low level of complexity involved with using the products underneath. With the intention that this will set a calming tone from there on.

To limit the booklet to just the necessary information, a task analysis was carried out to remove unwanted steps. The final analysis can be found below.

During this process, 11 steps were cut from the original draft of the instruction booklet. The 'Piano body spray' section saw the greatest reduction, as originally it talked separately about the two spray options (High gloss and satin sheen), which are available depending on the customers piano type. Using this method allowed me to reduce this sequence down from 10 steps to 5.

Alongside the text content, it was decided that illustrations would be used to visually explain actions that have a specific cleaning motion involved. Visual aids are an important factor in helping users to understand, remember and apply instructions with the least cognitive effort. (Gainer, 2004) By keeping cognitive load low, usability is maximised for the user, reducing the chance of feature fatigue occurring.

Besides the design of the instruction booklet, I was also responsible for drawing the illustrations, layout and specific text used. Below is the final PDF copy, which was eventually printed on an A6, 8 page concertina booklet with a high GSM of 170 and a matte coat. As the first thing the user sees, it was crucial that it was high quality.

Brainstorming With User Group

A brainstorming session with three of the shops patrons was conducted. The session was about what they would do with the box after its use, in hopes to find out some insights that could pro-long the product's life cycle.

After going down a rabbit hole of why they keep some packaging, it was discovered that they all felt reluctant to throw packaging away if it beat an imaginary quality threshold in their head. If it beat this, they would want to keep it for storage.

Packaging Quality
When deciding on the material specifications with the manufacturer, they were consulted about what specifications normally fall inline with their more luxury clients. A sample with these was then ordered and when it arrived, it was presented to the same three users for their opinion. All three agreed they could see themselves saving the packaging like other luxury boxes.

User and Packaging Relationship

To encourage a sustainable relationship between user and packaging, ways to grow an emotional attachment were explored. The goal here was to promote durability and longevity through a bond between the two.

Haines-Gadd, in his Emotionally Durable Design Framework, states that a key part of creating a connection between a person and a material is the sensory experience. (2017) This is because positive sensory experiences use the same hedonic brain systems as all other pleasurable activities that are important to happiness. Furthermore, if the sensory stimulus is pleasurable, they develop a similar link to memory, which creates a repeated desire for it. (Kringelbach, 2005)

Taking this information forward, I used the packaging touch points to identify where in the use other senses could be bought into the experience. It made sense that it should be towards the end of the 'after use' phase in the lifecycle. As this allow little distraction from the additional sensory experience, and was the optimal moment to create a pleasurable moment and memory.

As the box already had a magnetic closing lid, it made sense that this would be the best opportunity. By working closely with the supplier, I was able to sample 4 different magnetic strengths and find one that was the most satisfying. In the end the maximum strength was chosen, which can be seen on the right.


At this stage the packaging had been signed off by the owner of The Piano Shop Bath and it was time to make sure all materials and products were on site ready for the release. Besides this, a delivery system was also devised and construction posters made for employees, so they would know the step by step process of putting together a box.

-Rigid cardboard box manufacture

-Other Item acquisition

-Assembly line

Rigid Cardboard Box Manufacture

In order to find a suitable manufacturer, I reached out to 10-15 companies based both nationally and abroad. Out of all these only one was able to manufacture the amount we wanted (500 units to start), as the others were not able to do a quantity this low. By using Illustrator I was able to communicate the dimensions exactly to the supplier which helped avoid confusion. Also frequent communication allowed us to move the manufacture along as quickly as possible, and after I had signed off on the sample the 500 units were ordered and delivered within two months to the The Piano Shop Bath.

Other Item Acquisition

To make sure that 500 units of the box were available for when the kit went on sale, enough supply for all the parts were sought and stored on site. To achieve this, I had to make phone calls and communicate internationally with suppliers from Europe, Canada and China. A notably harder item to acquire was the floating strip, which was originally going to be laser cut, but testing revealed the possibility of burnt edges. Plotter cutting was therefore used as an alternative here to produce clean edges. Like the rigid cardboard box, I used illustrator to produce specification documents which were used by the company to cut.

As I purchased items in bulk, I kept logs of all costs and the break down of the item for a unit. Therefore at every stage of acquisition I had precise records of how much all the individual parts would cost in one box and how much a single box would cost as a whole. This also included the cost of other external factors such as the box delivery fee to give the total picture.

Assembly Line

As I was just working on this project as a freelancer, I wouldn't be around when orders came in. Therefore an element of training would be required so that members of the team could assemble the boxes correctly ready for shipping. As the team was constantly rotating, I thought it would be best to design two A2 posters that could be hung up in the room where everything was being stored, so team members could always access how to build a box. Below is one of the posters.

Project Reflection

Even though the owner of the Piano Shop Bath was happy with the results of this project, I regret not using a more user-orientated approach through out, especially during the research phase. Mainly as better insights here would have given me a stronger footing for ideation.

I didn't use this type of approach initially as this project started during my year in industry, and was prior to learning in-depth about Human-Centred Design in my final year of university. But as the project was part time and continued into my final year, I started to use methods which involved higher levels of user participation, something that I believe really benefited this packaging experience.

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