Skip
Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

2 minute read

Wanted

Two Warby Parker Alums Take On The Luggage Industry

Away's genius suitcase solves many of the headaches of modern travel—and it has serious design cred.

  • 01 /13
  • 02 /13
  • 03 /13
  • 04 /13
  • 05 /13
  • 06 /13
  • 07 /13
  • 08 /13
  • 09 /13
  • 10 /13
  • 11 /13
  • 12 /13
  • 13 /13

There is no such thing as the perfect carry-on. Maybe you found a suitcase that's big enough for your belongings, but doesn't fit in the overhead bin. Maybe you're the guy who's sprinting to make a connecting flight only to bust a wheel along the way. Maybe you found a big, handsome, sturdy piece of luggage, but it costs as much as your entire vacation.

Away doesn't pretend to solve every problem associated with lugging your life around in a bag, but it tackles a lot of them. The brainchild of Warby Parker alums Jen Rubio and Steph Korey, it's a luggage company that sells high-quality pieces with clever flourishes even the most hardened traveler could appreciate.

"We both have a personal passion for travel and felt like we were underserved," Korey says. "We thoughtfully planned our trips, but they fell flat in terms of having well-designed, affordable luggage. People deserve something better—a great product that makes travel seem seamless."

To design and engineer the product, Korey and Rubio enlisted Box Clever, the San Francisco-based studio founded by former fuseproject designers Bret Recor and Seth Murray. (They worked on the Sayl task chair for Herman Miller, One Laptop Per Child, and Jambox while at Yves Behar's consultancy.)

"Looking at the way luggage is often designed today, there are a lot of legacy details that don't make sense anymore and a lot of things that are lacking because of how security and technology have influenced the travel experience," Recor says.

Throughout the development process, Box Clever looked for ways to strip away the elements that weren't necessary and integrate elements that would solve some of the common problems travelers encounter. Since the suitcase's body is made from ultra-strong, lightweight polycarbonate, there was no need for bulky protective corners. To improve mobility and make the carry-on less cumbersome, the designers specified sturdy wheels that rotate have 360 degrees. YKK zippers—the highest quality zippers in the market—ensure the luggage stays closed.

"The smaller touch points are often more important than the big gestures," Recor says. "We were moving so fast—development took less than a year—that we had to pick components that we knew would work. Picking Hinomoto wheels meant that we didn't have to worry something would go wrong—we couldn't reinvent the wheel, so to speak."

The interior is fitted with a compression divider to help users fit more stuff inside. A laundry bag keeps dirty clothes away from clean ones. Mesh compartments keep things organized. If you'd rather have an open interior, you can take all the dividers and organizers out. Size-wise it meets all TSA requirements and has a TSA-approved lock for security.

Best yet? There's a charger integrated with the suitcase—no more hunting for that lone outlet at the airport. It's located under the handle and doesn't impede your ability to move the suitcase when you're powering up.

"It’s bag for people who travel frequently and a bag for people who don’t," Recor says. "We thought that if it covers the needs of a road warrior, the people who don’t travel will love it as well."

"The design is very user driven," Korey says. "It's not a feature list; it's for the way people really travel."

Up next for Away? Two sizes of checked luggage. Order the Away carry-on for $225 at awaytravel.com

loading