CLIENT Premium Corporation
In 2011 I had an opportunity to design a range of soft coolers for the FLY brand. Prior to this I had very limited experience with textiles, mostly through projects where I did illustrations for kids lunch cooler bags.
The thing that always somewhat bothered me is how stale the soft cooler designs on the market are. While there is some variation in shape and material between brands, in general they all follow the same format - boxy shape, constrasting materials that are usually surrounded by piping or mesh, and so on. While at bulk sizes the typical boxy shape may work, when you go down to the more personal 5 to 15 litre range it’s just not convenient to handle at all.
What I realized is that on a basic level soft coolers aren’t really different from traditional bags, other than having insulation. They still need to be convenient to actually carry and look presentable in public, and splintered into various categories (hand bag, laptop bag, backpack, duffel, etc) your ordinary bag is tailored to a specific purpose at a specific capacity.
So I decided to apply this kind of thinking to soft coolers, and create a 13 litre Personal Cooler. At such a relatively small capacity, carrying a dedicated cooler just for a small snack for yourself or your family isn’t really all that convenient when you’re out and about at an event or a quick trip.
So my solution was to combine the functionality of soft coolers with the convenience of messenger bags. Something you may even carry with you every day. A soft cooler you may not be embarrassed to carry in public.
The main challenge here was cost. Through market research I identified the bracket where the majority of soft cooler brands sold in national chain stores are, and so being competitive in that bracket became my target.
Onto the mechanics. There are three storage spaces - pretty much all of the lid is a non-insulated pocket for items you may need a quick access to: papers, pens, keys, etc. Once you open the lid, you have another, larger non-insulated pocket for things like your gadgets, and notebooks. Finally you have the main 13 litres of insulated space with a special holder for a bottle of wine or a typical water bottle.
Both the bottle holder and the non-insulated pocket can be pushed in for extra cooler space when you need it, allowing for an even bigger capacity.
The 13L FLY Cooler was to be a perfect companion for a small family outing, event or picnic. Selling for $35 NZD at retail meant that it was very affordable too, and by using the material efficiently as well meant that it was going to be durable. It was going to be perfect for promotional use too - the wholesale cost included a four colour print on the bag’s lid as well as customisable colours for the inside.