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.


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.

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.


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
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less