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Idea > sketch > bag on your back: RiutBag so far

RiutBag prototype 2014

Sign up here to get an email reminder when the RiutBag goes live. Here are a few key moments in the RiutBag's journey to existence. Why? So that you can see how it's possible to have an idea, not act, act and then just get it to a stage where you have a tangible product. It's amazing how you can have ideas and fail to act on them. I did nothing but sketch the RiutBag for two years.

RiutBag early sketches c. 2012

The days before RiutBag existed, I used every plane, train and bus journey to sketch. Travelling from London to Berlin by plane most weeks, I got plenty of observation market research done: my own feelings travelling alone with a normal rucksack, the other rucksacks out there and how people react to those around them.

Whilst it seemed like I wasn't getting much done, I was actually forming a fantastic view of the current commuter's and traveller's situation. That might sound like an excuse! It is, in part. I also hadn't saved up the money I needed to prototype and live whilst setting up the company.

My brain was switched on to the RiutBag idea two years ago.

February this year I quit my job. My savings had reached the magic number in my head: enough to live on for a year as well as prototype the RiutBag and get me to my funding stage. It was time to work out my notice period and start confronting the people around me who thought I was mad.

Sketches under my arm, I met prototyping companies and got working with one very soon after I left full time employment. I thought I'd be able to freelance with my old company for a while, but our working relationship just wasn't the same after I left. New management in my team meant it would be too tricky to explain what I do and why I should do it. So after a few months there really was no income.

Thankfully I was working with a great prototyping team that understood I wanted to create something good now and get it ready for the market. Within a few seemingly long months the first prototype of the RiutBag emerged from our team.

This was when the real work started. We all knew the idea seemed sound, but would it work as planned in practice?

RiutBag Prototype one 2014

RiutBag prototype two 2014

Whilst these might not seem like the next generation of rucksacks to you, my mind was suitably blown. I could see in these odd looking shells my sketched idea living and breathing in front of me. I also had a team of fantastic prototyping and textiles experts who could interpret my lay design intentions and let me take risks when I had unconventional demands.

My original idea was all about function. I hadn't accounted much for design. I had the views of over 600 commuters to turn to. They wanted a smart, inconspicuous and unique looking bag. It was back to the sketchbook to see what my brain thought the RiutBag should actually look like.

Sketch design 2 2014

It was strange. When I'd first sketched the RiutBag I had forgotten that bags have straps, handles, bottle holders and mass! Now, I understood that these are not just functional features; they are design opportunities for the final look and feel of any rucksack.

This was really hard for me. I'm a lover of textbooks, theories and making things, but it's very rare that what I do must appeal to the eye to those around me. Or, in fact, to total strangers.

I often went back to the data gathered through the RiutSurveys. The respondents, real rucksack users, told me in detail their views on straps, design, logos and posture of rucksacks. Colours, patterns, weights and sizes. I had to read into this data to create a RiutBag that is appealing to both sexes, for smart and casual travel. It's a tricky one, but there was no point in guessing forever and not creating a final prototype.

I drew, debated, rethought and discussed every angle, colour and stitch with Annah, the amazing textiles expert at D2M Innovation. After long debates we finalised the body of the bag and moved on to the designed finishing touches. Including the bottle holder and minimalistic outer shell design these have become the most protectable aspects of the whole RiutBag design.

And here it is:

Your rucksack the Riut way round

The RiutBag launches for 30 days only on Kickstarter this Monday 27 October 2014. If enough people back it - ordering one in advance - it will go into production. If they don't, it'll stay the best thing I've made in my life. But I'm going for plan A: we back the bag, manufacture the first run of RiutBags and get them to your door.

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