Interview with Young Professional Application Day winner Victoria Berger

and-less – a company for reusable packaging with added value

When Victoria Berger, the founder of and-less, visited the Red Dot Design Museum in Essen 15 years ago, she had no idea that her product would one day be exhibited there. The reusable To-Go packaging system is her response to the wasteful use of disposable packaging.

In the interview, the Austrian entrepreneur shares why she doesn't like the term sustainability, the challenges she had to overcome when founding her startup, and how the Young Professional Application Day supported her as a young entrepreneur.

How important is sustainability to you?

I don't really like that term. It has been used so often that it has become synonymous with green labeling. I prefer the term "environment" because what interests me and what I advocate for is the environment - the world we live in and how we interact with it. I think it's only logical to treat our environment as we would our own home - with mindfulness and respect. This includes understanding limits and boundaries - our resources are not infinite, and we should not be wasteful with them.

What inspired you to develop a reusable To-Go system?

The catalyst was specifically my semester abroad in South Korea. There, I witnessed firsthand what will happen if we continue to consume wastefully without considering our resource waste. Tons of waste are generated daily from the single-use of disposable packaging. We need solutions that work in the long term, and unfortunately, the concept of reusing is still associated with a complicated process. We want to change this and create reusability with added value through and-less - for everyone!

“The biggest hurdle is persuasion. A reusable system requires a change in mindset, and that takes time. ”

Your startup "and-less" is still very young. What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome?

The biggest hurdle is persuasion. A reusable system requires a change in mindset, and that takes time. Nevertheless, it gives us a lot of energy when we can celebrate small successes step by step because it shows that we are on the right track.

Now that you've had early success with the To-Go reusable system and have also been awarded a Red Dot, where is "and-less" headed?

Our goal is to meet the principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle with functional and holistic product design and to assist our customers in implementing an efficient reusable system. Our focus is now on larger businesses in the system and catering industry. Transitioning to a reusable system can be more challenging for them as they need to adapt existing processes. We support our clients with our expertise in product design and work together to develop a reusable system that can be easily integrated to meet their specific requirements.

What does the award mean to you?

A dream come true! When I was still a student, we visited the Red Dot Design Museum with our product design teacher. Well, now, about 15 years later, I'm exhibiting my products there – it's incredible!

How has participating in the Red Dot Award: Product Design supported you as a young entrepreneur?

As a young entrepreneur, receiving an internationally renowned award is simply invaluable. It confirms and emphasizes our expertise and our ability to bring good and functional design in harmony with the environment. I firmly believe that product design is a crucial factor in generating a real impact, and it pleases me to see that environmentally friendly products are increasingly showcased at the Red Dot.

What opportunities does the Young Professional Application Day offer?

I believe it's a great opportunity for young designers to present their innovative products to an experienced jury. The significant chance of international recognition is something not to be missed.

What tips would you give to young entrepreneurs looking to apply?

In addition to good design and functionality, consider the aspect of sustainability and recyclability. Think about what will happen to your products at the end of their lifecycle and incorporate this consideration into your design from the beginning.

Young Professional Application Day on 6 December 2023

On the Young Professional Application Day, young entrepreneurs and designers who graduated no more than five years ago have the opportunity to enter a drawing for 50 free registrations for the Red Dot Award: Product Design. The products of the selected talents will be evaluated by the Red Dot Jury along with those of all participants. In the event of an award, the emerging talents will have access to the comprehensive winner's benefits at no cost. More information here.