Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Sarah Giblin ("SG") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.
SG : I'm a life-long backpack user and commuter. That's my only qualification to make backpacks. I have never studied design. A few years ago, I had my eureka moment: I realised that the conventional backpack design was causing extra stress and worry when we travel through a busy city. The problem? The person behind you can get into your backpack more easily than you can. So I decided to turn the backpack round exactly the opposite way. In March 2014 I left my job with my sketches to I remove all the zips off the outside of backpacks and put them against your back. I call this the RiutBag, pronounced "riot bag": the secure, backwards backpack. It's designed for the world's most frequent travellers, travellers, commuters, digital nomads and flyers who want peace of mind wherever they go. I made the RiutBag with the help of over 2,500 city travellers. How? On crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Thanks to them I now have a living breathing startup and there are RiutBag users in cities all over the world. I now run a one-person startup shipping RiutBags globally every day from www.riut.co.uk. It's tough, but it's worth it to know that RiutBag users feel more secure, confident and calm every day.
SG : Solving real problems. That's my motivation. Any object around us that we complain about may need rethinking. Is it too big, too small, too uncomfortably, too loud, too quiet, too this, too that? Think about how you would fix it. If your idea works and you want to make it, you can use many free online tools to find other users, survey them and find support for your idea through crowdfunding.
SG : Look for problems. Any think around us that we complain about may need rethinking. Is it too big, too small, too uncomfortable, too loud, too quiet, too this, too that? Think about how you would fix it. If your idea works and you want to make it, you can use many free online tools to find other users, survey them and find support for your idea through crowdfunding. It's tough, but then so is every job on some days. If you want to have a positive impact on the world around you by making something that solves real problems, you really can. Just listen out for those complaints!
SG : Design of physical objects simply helps us - humans - interact with the world around us. They enable us to do more than we could on our own. Clothes help us to stay warm, style ourselves in a socially acceptable way and focus on things other than our bodies. Backpacks help us carry more than we could in our hands. They allow our back to take the weight of these items whilst keeping our hands free to interact with other things. Shoes allow us to walk long distances without damage to our feet. Knives and forks allow us to eat a wide range of foods more easily. The list of descriptions is endless. Good design not only enables us to do more, it allows us to do more simply, easily, intuitively and without concern. The conventional backpack did carry things; but it made us feel worried because the zips were in the wrong place. The RiutBag design allows you to carry all your tech and belongings, and now you can do so safely and securely, which means you feel less stress every day for years to come. We should not only choose better designs to use every day, we too can be the creators of new designs.
SG : User thinking. I use survey tools like www.surveymonkey.com to ask my RiutBag users and other commuters or city travellers what are the problems they face. Have they got a good place to put their keys? Can they find they phone easily? I ask them what they like about urban travel and what they can't stand! I look at all this information and design to solve the real problems I see in the data.
SG : I've made 16 version of my designs. I update them every time with user feedback. My favourite part of the design is the core feature - zips against your back - and the D-pocket which belongs to the new RiutBag. The D-pocket lets you store your smartphone and access it on the go whilst keeping it secure. You can also keep your passport there for the times you need to move quickly through an airport whilst still keeping your things safe.
SG : Before I started Riut, I worked in a normal office job in my home town. I was a secretary four years ago and I was a classical singer before that :) Designing RiutBags, managing manufacturer and selling them online is tough but it's the greatest thing I've ever done for other people and myself.
SG : For me it's all about problem solving for the user in context. Does this thing solve a problem? When the user is in full swing in their daily life, using this design in context, does it still work? A great design is one that really solves problems and continues to change with user feedback to keep evolving over time.
SG : My biggest supporters were other backpack users on Kickstarter. Through two crowdfunding campaigns, over 2,500 city travellers raised over £200,000 to see the RiutBag made into a reality. Without this amazing group of online backpack users - the vast majority of which I do not know - the quality of the RiutBag, its design and manufacture couldn't have been a achieved. And it could never have been created.
SG : I think it's most important to get your design out there and used by people. That means, design, prototype, crowdfund and manufacture. Within 12 months of me leaving my job with my sketches under my arm, there were RiutBags being used all over the planet. Only real users can give you the feedback you need to improve the design.
SG : Riut, the name of my one-person startup, stands for Revolution in user thinking. I'm going to keep asking RiutBag users and travellers to take my surveys so I can keep upgrading the RiutBag to solve the travel problems of today and tomorrow.
SG : To turn the world's backpacks around, so we all travel with calm and confidence. I believe if we all feel secure when we travel, the world will be a better place for us and those around us. Lower stress, less suspicion, less hostility and more adaption to our new urban world.
SG : I've just finished my latest designs, RiutBag X35 and RiutBag Crush. They are not only secure, like all my backpacks, they change size when you need them to. It's a challenge but I think this is the way forward for innovative backpack design.
SG : Riut pronounced "riot", the name of my one-person startup, stands for Revolution in user thinking. This describes the RiutBag, revolved my 180 degrees to put all the openings against your back. But it also describes the way I created this one-person startup and how I will run it in the future. I revolve all my thinking around my users. I try not only to impact their use, but their thinking. Can I make them feel calmer, less stressed, more confident with my design? Finally, I encourage other other users to go and make their ideas happen. I'm going to keep asking RiutBag users and travellers to take my surveys so I can keep upgrading the RiutBag to solve the travel problems of today and tomorrow.
SG : Haha! How do I get in? :)
SG : Guy Kawasaki's "The Art of the Start".
SG : Through doing, manufacturing and user feedback. I learnt on the go.
SG : Judith Butler, American philosopher and gender theorist whose work has influenced political philosophy, ethics and the fields of feminist, queer and literary theory Elon Musk, founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX; co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla Motors; co-founder and chairman of SolarCity amongst other companies Skylar Tibbits, American designer and computer scientist best known for his work on self-assembly and pioneering the field of 4D Printing
SG : Feedback from RiutBag users. Whether it's praise, challenge, criticism or delight, feedback is what keeps me going. It inspires me to solve new problems, extend my thinking and revolve my thinking more closely around my users.
SG : This is a very interesting question. I believe humans will still be recognisably physical in form, as they are now. That means, we will stiff take showers, need protection from weather with housing and have to consume energy i.e. food. I don't think we will be ethereal digital beings. In the next 1000 years, I imagine a great deal of experimentation with machine enhancements of human to have taken place presenting large problems but making bigger steps towards safely enhancing humans making us, to a certain extent, cyborgs. I doubt that all people - no matter how rich - can access this technology. I believe the gap between the rich and the poor will increase, leaving the least well off in the world to remain as they are now; but the super rich will live on mars and possibly other planets, enhance their bodies with machines and use unthinkable means of new forms of communication and transport. These people may have internalised the objects we currently rely on e.g. the phone, computer and communications systems within their bodies. If they have cracked teleportation, RiutBags will no longer be required by the super rich since they won't have to carry anything again. However, the poorest people who stay on earth, may still have to carry things from A to B. The design problems of the future will have to help different groups of humans to interact with this new world. If we still drink cups of tea, we will still need mugs! But the problems of the future are likely to be very different, especially for the super rich.
SG : I sell my designs exclusively at www.riut.co.uk shipping globally every day Anyone interested can visit Riut's Facebook page www.facebook.com/riutbag or chat direct with me on Twitter www.twitter.com/_riut
© 2020 Design Legends - All Rights Reserved
Design Legends platform highlights valuable insights from the best designers from across the globe; a great resource for all designers to learn, reflect and think about good design and how good design helps create value for the society.
Design Legends website was created by DesignPRWire and A' Design Award to promote truly great designers, outstanding architects and inspirational artists that contribute to the development and advancement of society with their outstanding works.