Duo, a “daypack” which recently raised almost 250.000 euros on Kickstarter, is the last hit by Wandrd, a new company which is becoming more and more popular for its bags. Among their most successful products, all designed with a peculiar and disruptive approach, are the Prvke backpack with removable camera cube, the Hexad Duffel and a packable bag with inflatable back panel, the Veer. All these bags are made to be versatile, conceived with strong modularity in mind and are expressly designed for photographers and travellers. Fundraising also has a key role: that’s how the products were financed. Wandrd is an idea of Spencer and Ryan Cope, two brothers who began designing backpacks because there was no one available that they liked.
“I'll never forget the moment that Wandrd was born”, recalls Ryan Cope. He and his brother were sitting in their parents’ kitchen complaining about the lack of options for a quality camera bag. “At that point, we had done months of research (and purchased many bags), and we realized we had two options — either a camera bag that functioned OK and looked terrible or a bag that looked OK and functioned terribly”. They set off on a mission to create the world's best travel camera bag, “with all the gusto and ignorance of a couple of twenty-something-year-olds”. So they bought for 9.99 dollars wandrd.com, which sounds like “wanderer” but wasn’t expensive as wanderer.com. The name of the company comes from the effort of not simply being a bag-seller: “we wanted to inspire others to see more of the world”. On October 6, 2015, the Prvke backpack, Wandrd’s first bag, was launched on Indiegogo. “But we didn't pay ourselves a dime for the first two years of work we did on Wandrd”.
Do you still design the Wandrd bags for yourself?
Yes. We create products that we need, love, and use every day, and that we couldn't find on the market. And it turns out, there are quite a few people like us. People who love design as much as they love the functionality, and who are constantly exploring, whether it's across the ocean or in their backyard.
And you're still working of finding a balance between functionality and aesthetics.
We started this company on the idea that a person doesn't have to choose between one or the other. Our whole goal with our products is to create something that looks incredible, and functions even better.
Now you introduce the Duo, which you define as a “Daypack”.
This is our true “daily carry” backpack (or Daypack). It's meant to go from work to play, play to work, play to play, work to work, or whatever else you call your daily grinds, passions, and errands.
Can you explain to me the dual side access? How was the idea born?
Dual side access is something we have always been interested in since before our first product, The Prvke Pack, was launched. Access is such an important feature in any bag but especially in a photo bag. Getting to your camera quickly can be the difference between getting the shot or missing it. We had initially designed a completely different backpack from The Prvke that had dual side access and a completely different look and feel from the Prvke but with nearly completed tech packs we changed direction. While we ultimately went with a different design then, we were excited to bring that idea back incorporating it into the Duo.
I can see that you can completely open the backpack. How did you come up with such a feature?
With access being such an important part of backpacks, in general, you can see that almost all of our products from our Prvke and it's Lay Flat Packing to the Access Duffel and its clamshell opening, we like the ability to fully open a backpack up so you can get to all your gear. The full zip opening on the Duo is just the next evolution of how we like a lot of access.
And what about the materials?
We believe high-quality and aesthetically pleasing materials are a must when creating a bag. We are always hunting for the latest and greatest fabrics and figuring out how we can implement them into our products. We are partial to matte black finishes on our bags and feel this gives them the unique look where you can feel just as comfortable in the mountains as the boardroom. They look strong yet fashionable. For the Duo we used a newly developed 5 PM coating on ballistic nylon that has the great abrasion resistance and durability as well as being waterproof.
How do you design a backpack for “work and play”?
We started by looking at the way people use their bags and what they are carrying in each scenario. We then design features that cross over so the same feature can be used in both situations or at least if it was designed for the "play" aspect of carrying that it doesn't get in the way of the "work" carry situations. Versatility is so important when designing a cross over product - customers will become frustrated if the bag doesn't do both jobs well.
Would you design your products differently, if they were not intended to be crowdfunded?
Great question, no we wouldn't. Many products on Kickstarter have features/marketing that is borderline gimmicky and or excessive. It seems the platform has promoted this “you won't believe what this product does” mentality. We have made a conscious effort to not fall into those traps of short term success. From the founding of our company, we were very aware that we were entering a saturated space with little room for protections from patents, etc so we know that our brand was going to be one of it, not our greatest assets. So when designing our products we are always thinking about our brand and the long term success of our products and ultimately Wandrd which is so much bigger than just the crowdfunding aspect of our business.