Behind The Design: How NOMATIC Roller Luggage Came To Life
by, Melinda Fox
For years people have been asking us to create roller luggage, and for years, we’ve been working to create luggage we were confident would be the most functional luggage on the market. So why did it take a team of five designers two years to develop this line? Well, here’s a peak into the design process behind the NOMATIC roller luggage.
My design philosophy is: Clarify, Simplify, and Verify. First, clarify what the real problem is and who are the people facing this problem. Simplify what the design is — in other words, cut out the bad ideas until you have simplified the design into the most functional and best-looking version of that design.
And finally, verify. Verify that people love the look. Verify that it’s solving the problems you were trying to solve. Verify the product is ready for the world with rigorous testing and critical user testing. This is a great way to make sure you have created the most functional luggage for people living Life On The Move.
-Evan Howard, Director of Industrial Design
The creation process began with determining what customers are looking for in a piece of roller luggage. Evan Howard, Director of Industrial Design at NOMATIC said, “I love to start my process by trying to understand what the problems are in travel.”
This meant researching market trends, watching people pack and unpack, conducting surveys and workshops, studying the travel experience, and testing the current options. With all this information, the design team was able to determine three things that define functional luggage:
Roller luggage must allow you to easily pack more and stay organized for any type of trip
Roller luggage must relieve pain points of travel to make it a breeze
Roller luggage must be built to last so you can travel without worrying if your luggage can withstand
Once we determined what functional roller luggage means, it was time to sketch prototypes to find solutions and create luggage that would make packing painless, traveling easier, and be extremely durable.
One of the challenges in the design process was figuring out how to make tech accessible in roller luggage. Our research showed that people tend to juggle multiple bags or open their suitcase entirely in order to access their often-used items like tablets and chargers. This was a challenge we solved with the NOMATIC Carry-On Pro. After tons of prototypes, we landed on a simple solution: a tech case that easily slips in and out of a locked front compartment. Evan said, “We focused on making the experience as smooth as possible by making access to tech easy and removable.”
Another important part of the design process is selecting the hardware and materials that will make up the bag. The team traveled to Asia to determine which materials could create long-lasting luggage. For example, after testing the top wheels on the market, we discovered that Hinomoto wheels were strong and durable without sacrificing a smooth, quiet glide.
Many luggage companies create the luggage’s hard shell with non-virgin polycarbonate. This means that the materials are broken up into little pieces and melted together. But in order to ensure that the shell won’t break, the NOMATIC designers decided to build the shell out of 100% virgin polycarbonate. This means the fibers of the shell are long strands that aren’t easily broken.
At each step of the process, the prototypes were put through intense tests to check their capabilities. The luggage was weighted and dropped to test handle strength, driven miles over rough terrain to test the wheels’ longevity, and thrown from great heights to determine the toughness of the shell. Evan said, “We tested these bags against the toughest brands in the industry and the NOMATIC luggage exceeded industry testing standards. Whether it was the drop test, trolley test, or mileage test, we passed with flying colors.”
Getting frequent traveler approval
Once the luggage was able to pass all the highest standards, it was ready to be tested in the real world. Many people tested the luggage and offered their feedback to further improve the NOMATIC roller luggage. Finally, when we gave the finished product to frequent travelers Lewis Howes and Peter McKinnon. They raved about the NOMATIC luggage.
New York Times best-selling author and host of “The School of Greatness,” Lewis Howes said, “I love the NOMATIC roller bag because of how sleek it looks. You know you want to travel in style, you want it to be accessible and have the compartments you need but you also want it to feel good, feel like it’s sturdy, that it rolls smoothly, that it’s lightweight, but it’s also durable, and it has all of that.”
And world-renowned photographer, Peter McKinnon said, “[My] favorite feature of the roller bag would have to be those nice, hard tie-downs that just unbuckle with the magnets. It’s so easy to cinch down all your clothing. It compresses it nice and tight and they easily lock back on with a magnet.”
Once we had the approval of people who travel for a living, basically living out of their luggage, we knew the roller luggage was finally ready to launch. With compartmentalization and a revolutionary compression system that allows you to only compress the pieces you want (so you don’t crush other items, like your shoes) we were able to create luggage that improved the packing experience and allows you to pack more. Innovative features like the tech compartment improve the travel experience, making it virtually seamless. Lastly, our luggage is built with high-end materials and underwent intense testing to ensure it would last through every journey.
“Honestly, I hope they totally forget that the luggage is even there. I hope their experience is so smooth and easy that the luggage fades into the background and the travel experience rises to the top.”
-Evan Howard, Director of Industrial Design
When asked what he hopes someone’s reaction to using the NOMATIC luggage is, Evan Howard said, “Honestly, I hope they totally forget that the luggage is even there. I hope their experience is so smooth and easy that the luggage fades into the background and the travel experience they are having rises to the top. I hope the only time this experience is interrupted is because a stander-by complIments them on their NOMATIC roller luggage and travel bags.
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