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Notabag: How We Designed an Innovative Bag Using Dieter's Ram Principles

This innovative bag, on Kickstarter now, converts simply into a backpack without any extra materials.

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One day, when I found myself fighting traffic on my bike with a heavy bag on my handlebar, I had a lightbulb moment. Wishing that I could wear my shopping bag over my shoulders, I started envisioning a transformation from a bag to a backpack. At first, I was convinced that such a product must already exist. However, after almost two years of research and not being able to find anything like it, my friend Ilaria and I went on to create our own—we called it Notabag. It's a simple tote bag that transforms into a backpack. Here’s the story of our design process, based on Dieter Ram’s 10 principles of good design.


After testing more than 20 different prototypes, using various materials, and spending about 18 months refining the design, we arrived at the final version for the Notabag.

The original idea was to make the Notabag out of one continuous piece of fabric, so that minimum sewing was needed. However, that proved not to be an ideal solution. It was a big challenge to create a nicely designed shape that can distribute weight equally. The problem could have been solved if we were to use buttons or Velcro, especially when it comes to functionality of switching from bag to backpack. However, we wanted to have the design do all the “heavy lifting” while complimenting its functionality. This is why we took on the extra step of creating it without any unnecessary buttons or Velcro.

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Since I am somewhat obsessed with simplicity and functionality of a product, I found Dieter Ram’s 10 principle of good design to be my mantra during the process of creating Notabag.
Good design is innovative:\n
Notabag’s design is innovative because it allows the product to transform itself in the simplest way possible.
Good design makes a product useful:\n
Because Notabag can be carried as a bag or worn as a backpack, the product is multifunctional.
Good design is aesthetic:\n
Notabag’s design is aesthetically appealing to both men and women. It is approachable, friendly, simple and stylish.
Good design makes a product understandable:\n
Notabag’s design speaks for itself, without the need for further explanations; the transformation from a bag to backpack happens almost intuitively.
Good design is unobtrusive:\n
Notabag’s design is purely functional, but it still leaves room for the owner’s self-expression.
Good design is honest:\n
Notabag’s design is understated, fully intended to compliment its functionality.
Good design is long-lasting:\n
Notabag’s design is timeless. It is aesthetically pleasing, but there are no characteristics that are specifically tied to a current trend, or any fad.
Good design is thorough down to the last detail:\n
Every detail of Notabag’s design has been thought through, and serves a purpose.
Good design is environmentally-friendly:\n
Notabag’s design eliminates the need for plastic bags. A Notabag can be used over, over, and over again. It can be rolled into a pouch so that it can be with you everywhere you go, whether it’s used as a shopping bag or backpack.
Good design is as little design as possible:\n
Notabag’s design is stripped down to its bare minimum. No additional features, materials or unnecessary shapes are implemented. It is meant to be purely functional.

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In addition to wanting multifunctional products, consumers are also becoming more conscious about the environment. Many cities are enforcing laws to ban plastic bags. Notabag is an eco-friendly solution that simplifies our active, on-the-go lifestyle and addresses a real need.
Our goal for Notabag is not just to be a trend, but rather a product that creates a new place for itself in the marketplace. Our vision is to be able to take part in good causes and also collaborate with creative individuals. We want Notabag to become one of your favorite accessories. Please consider supporting us on Kickstarter.
Photos by Daniela Prusina courtesy of Notabag\n
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