Q: Are there any essential design or storage elements every great pantry has?
A: Every single pantry needs to have some form of a basket or bin to contain the general categories. Even if you like (or prefer) canisters and jars, you can incorporate a few or many to accompany the baskets.
Canisters are great for dry goods and staple items, but it's still important to have some large categories for groupings that aren't overly specific or singular. For example, a "Dinner Bin" can hold everything from boxes of pasta to cans of soup or taco shells — so you are never stuck with an item that doesn't have a home.