Cambridge Design Partnership’s innovative design allows commuters to keep fit and look smart
Cycling to work, whether to keep fit or for simple convenience, has risen sharply in popularity in recent years. The problem is that for those who have to dress smartly for work, cycling is mainly impractical. Those commuters who wish to cycle to work often have to sacrifice their smart look and struggle to find a way in which they can cycle to work while still looking slick.
The answer to this problem may have now arrived, due to the innovative solution that has been announced by the Cambridge Design Partnership. They have revealed their new compact rucksack prototype named Suitpack, which is an ingenious yet very simple roll fold concept, that they have patented, and combines convenience with crease free clothes.
Suitpack is designed to hang easily from most locations, and allows easy access to the toiletry, shoes and clothes compartments. It has been designed for speed of use, and its novel folding system makes it an all round solution for modern commuters.
Increased commuting time and the ever more common practice of working long hours often mean that there is little time outside of work to dedicate to exercise. The convenience of cycling as a form of exercise, the popularity of various government cycling initiatives, and financial and environmental concerns, have all resulted in a significant net increase in cycle-commuting. 1.3 million new UK cyclists joined the roads last year, there are now 783,000 cycle commuters and the increase in cycling levels is predicted to continue to grow another 20% by 2015.
Furthermore, cyclists clearly enjoy spending on their passion1: The bicycle market in the UK was worth £1.62 billion in 2010, (up 28% on the previous year), with the accessories market worth £853 million. The average cycle commuter spends, on average, £195/year, and ‘enthusiasts’ a whopping £1295/year, on accessories. And that’s just the UK market; the EU cycle market is 10 times the UK’s with 4 million frequent commuter cyclists.
As part of their ethos to think differently, Cambridge Design Partnership has ventured into new capabilities by combining their traditional engineering and innovation skills with ‘cut and stitch’ design. This is another example of flexibility and versatility in applying innovation to diverse market opportunities and technology areas with the ability to gather rich, in-depth research to discover unmet consumer needs and tackle them with creative solutions.
“We know the challenges faced by anyone who has to pack smart clothes for the journey to work,” commented Ben Strutt, Head of Design at Cambridge Design Partnership. “Most people who go to the gym early, cycle or jog to work, and commute regularly in ‘practical’ clothes understand the need to change into smart attire upon arrival. This can be annoying and time consuming, leaving the unsatisfactory options of disruption to personal routine; lack of exercise, or commuting via different methods. There is also the issue of office changing facilities which tend to be cramped, impersonal, with floors too wet to put clothes on.
“Very often the trick of good design is not to reinvent the wheel; but to identify and understand problems, give a fresh perspective, and address a burning gap in the market. Here, Cambridge Design Partnership has provided an innovative, graceful solution to what is, for many people, an everyday problem, and which addresses a huge market need.”
It’s not just cyclists who will benefit from Suitpack. Many traditional commuters wish to go to the gym before or after work, or during their lunch break, and Suitpack provides a convenient temporary storage solution for smart clothes. It also fits within the dimensions of ‘hand luggage’ allowed by European airports and in railway ceiling racks, allowing business commuters to travel in comfort with all of the convenience of the backpack form-factor. Also despite its compact size there is still space for a laptop and important daily accessories.
Graham Henderson, business commuter and partner in the project, says: “Life in the city can be fast and days in the office are often long, so many people find they don’t have time to go to the gym or play any sport. Commuting by bike solves this problem by incorporating exercise into your daily routine, so a healthy lifestyle and a busy job are no longer incompatible. But the problem of what to wear means the only options seem to be turning up with crumpled trousers, keeping your wardrobe under your desk or taking transport and exercising later. The Suitpack is a smart solution to all this.”
CDP’s Head of Design continues “Cambridge Design Partnership’s most recent demonstrator has evolved during the application of our usual iterative design process; with rapid experimentation and critiquing of successive models and prototypes we quickly learn about problems and opportunities, while refining the design for cost and labour effective manufacture.”
Cambridge Design Partnership is now interested in speaking with potential partners about the future branding and development of the Suitpack backpack, or its core innovations into other luggage designs, and on to the manufacture and distribution phase.