In my Spring 2018 studio, we spent the second half of the course exploring nature as a
source of inspiration, from biomimicry to streamlining to other naturally inspired forms.
Taking my cue from the ever-changing natural world, I created a soft good that could
switch shape and volume if the user desired.
This design started with an idea for a process. I had noticed in my peers and I the
tendency to buy and store numerous bags of different sizes, shapes, and purposes for
carrying belongings around. I realized that, with some clever fastening, one bag could
change shape and volume, serving the purpose of two different bags.
proof of concept
I used paper to create some quick mockups of the idea. I verified that my
transformation would work and also quickly honed in on the size and proportions of
the bag. I wanted it to be slim in both modes for easy storage.
As the bag’s design evolved, I drew inspiration from the natural world, especially
butterflies. The process of metamorphizing from a caterpillar into a butterfly is
fascinating to me because it is such a dramatic transformation. I wanted the bag’s
transformation to feel just as revelatory to the user.
refining the design
I used what I learned from the paper prototypes and my inspiration sources to
improve the bag’s design. I explored aesthetic possibilities, as well as functional
details including fastenings, zippers, pockets, and pouches.
I drew on my experience designing and sewing dresses to develop a pattern for the
backpack. This was a fun challenge, as I enjoy the process of picturing how a
two-dimensional material can transform into a three-dimensional object.
sewing the model
I chose the orange accent fabric with change and transformation in mind. The fabric
appears either yellow-orange or orange-pink at different angles. In backpack form, a
black mesh covers the orange accents, creating a darker, more muted red.
The appearance model was a success--my professor thought I had a “real” backpack
when he first saw it! The biggest thing I learned from this project is the importance of
fasteners in the design of soft goods. Although technically “functional,” the model
suffered from weak magnets (causing loose, dangling flaps) and finnicky zippers
(which made the switch from backpack to messenger bag process slow and arduous).