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Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

A project by Giulia Bencini, Insa Keilbach and Johanna Perret


NOVO means “new” — and new always means to do things a little differently.


A project within the Master in Eco-social Design, inspired by the annual theme ESSEN/ALIMENTARE/FOOD (Project 1 - SS 2015/16).




Idea & Concept of NOVO

Non-Disposable Packaging-Options available at NOVO

NOVO is an organic supermarket, opening in 2017 in the center of Bolzano, that provides you with everything you need for your weekly shopping. As the store offers a big part of its goods unpacked and loose, you’re the one to decide how much you want of a product and you have the chance to pack it more ecofriendly: in paper or textile bags, in glass jars or bottles that you can either buy in the store or bring from home. Following the “zero waste” movement, NOVO hopes to reduce packaging and food waste and give people the chance to consume more sustainably and responsibly.

Project Approach

As the M.A. is aiming at understanding and practicing design in an eco-social manner, the important question was how to make it really and fully eco-social. NOVO itself surely encourages eco-social transition in society, but how could we as designers structure our work in ways it supports the values of ecological and social sustainability? Taking into account the Open Source concept we decided to radically use Open-Source files and software during our process, but at the same time share all the knowledge we gathered throughout our research. We conducted a survey among packaging-free stores around Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Austria to get first impressions on what is important and notable when starting a zero-waste store. Furthermore we visited (in real life but also online) some of the already existing stores and gathered inspiration and concept-ideas on store interior, containers and packaging options, branding and visual appearance and communication strategies. For sharing this knowledge and supporting future packaging-free stores, we created an Open Source Project Timeline and a Wiki with all the gathered information.

Design Work

Various Product Categories on the Website

1. The NOVO Philosophy and Concept

Together with the owners of NOVO we defined the 3 core values that will serve as the base for NOVO in an extensive brainstorming session: Openness, Sustainability and Responsibility. From then on we looked for ideas of how to translate those values into the reality of the store: A coffee corner for the customers to have a break and rest for a while, multi-lingual store signs to include people of all nationalities, the connection to a vegan/vegetarian restaurant in order to create synergies regarding the use of food, a rent-a-bike service so people can easily transport their goods home, product signs providing important background info on the products, recipe-baskets and -cards to inspire people in how to use the products offered at NOVO — and many more ideas.


2. Dynamic Branding & Visual Language

Since NOVO aims at re-framing and re-shaping current conditions in the food and consumption system, the store interior, as well as the branding, takes up this idea visually. The word mark “NOVO” is compiled of four different typefaces that can move on a pre-defined grid. Through those dynamics the brand promotes an active and vivid feeling and supports openness and flexibility. Digitally, the logo can be used even as an animation. Furthermore, typefaces and colours have been defined to strengthen the natural appearance. Both the logo and the structures in the store are based on the same open source measurement system.

Dynamic Branding

3. Construction of Furniture & Interior Design

The construction itself is based on the idea of a yellow frame that puts emphasis on the products. Inside the shelves, the products is given space to breathe, which supports a feeling of high-quality and validity. For each product group the shelf will vary slightly in size and dimension, as each group requires different segmentation and use of space. The material choices are — of course — plastic-free and highly natural, using untreated wood.


4. First NOVO Webpage

A NOVO landing page was developed in order to start communicating publicly about the future store. There, the user can find some info on the basic idea behind the shop and the story of its owners, and has the chance to sign up for a newsletter. That way NOVO can start building a customer base and communicate more directly to people. The web page is fully responsive and thereby accessible and barrier-free: it can be viewed on mobile devices as well as on tablet or computer screens. Soon, the site will be available in three languages as well.

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