Who Knew? Valréas, France.

We use all types of boxes. We store things in boxes. We ship in boxes. We present gifts in boxes. Many of us save boxes. Then there are those who actually collect boxes. Empty boxes, at that. As a packaging designer, I am one of the latter. I often find myself buying a particular item just because of the box. When I travel, I’m always looking, searching, discovering the local sites: small museums, second-hand shops, flea markets. I try to leave the well-worn path whenever I can. When I visited friends this past summer near Nyons, they had a surprise for me. 

It was a museum dedicated to the box industry, the Musée du Cartonnage et de l’Imprimerie in Valréas, France. In the late 19th century, this town was the hub of box manufacturing, with over 17 different companies dedicated to all facets of box-making. The museum highlights the entire process of making boxes, from how the boxes were cut and scored to the printing of the labels. I discovered NKF is using some of the same equipment that was in the museum.

I learned that most of the factory workers were women and many of them had home offices. Meaning the companies would set up “work stations” in their homes, which were filled with boxes everywhere. It was exciting to see that NKF is still holding up the tradition of making a handmade product in the same way. If you find yourself in the south of France and are seeking a short diversion, I recommend a visit to the museum. 

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