A few years ago, Adnan Alicusic was biking back from a farmer’s market with a precariously situated bag wobbling from his handlebars and cursing himself for forgetting his backpack. This “d’oh!” episode, however, became an “aha!” moment instead: Wouldn’t it be convenient to have a tote that quickly transitioned between grabbable and wearable? Now, the Frankfurt-based designer has introduced Notabag, a clever accessory that easily converts from tote to backpack.
The challenge was to construct a handheld sack with straps that could also sit comfortably on the shoulders, with a shape that allowed for equal weight distribution however it was being used. “Dieter Rams’s ten principles for good design were my mantra during the entire process,” Alicusic tells Co.Design. “I am somewhat obsessed with simplicity and functionality, and therefore wanted to apply that approach to every aspect of Notabag.” As such, he opted not to incorporate any superfluous accessories like Velcro or buttons, instead allowing the material itself to do all the heavy lifting.
Insights from his fashion designer friend Ilaria Gregianin helped to refine Notabag’s signature look–which is, refreshingly, targeted toward both ladies and fellas–in lightweight, durable rip-stop nylon and sturdy cotton, as well as select the quartet of red, blue, green, and black hues; plus, an attached pocket on the inside doubles as a palm-sized pouch when the Notabag’s not in action. Testing the almost two dozen styles of prototypes involved stuffing them full of standard items–groceries, books, clothes–to see how they would function with day-to-day wear-and-tear.
Casual carryalls may be ubiquitous these days, and will likely only increase in popularity as more cities ban plastic (and/or charge for paper), but the versatile brilliance of this basic idea ensures that it will become one of your favorites.