Interview with designer Sylvie Cherian (SC), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Nikidom Roller Schoolbag.

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Interview with Sylvie Cherian at Thursday 7th of February 2013: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
SC : To develop an ergonomic and durable schoolbag, to respond to the current market need. Children carry too much weight on their backs, and current trolley bags with wheels are poorly constructed and break very easily due to poor construction. Current trolley bags with small wheels are also difficult to manoeuver and as a result are cumbersome for children to handle. Our mission was to develop a bag that would be extremely easy for children to handle, ergonomic (push or pull function), and also with an interesting look so children would want to carry it.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
SC : The main focus was to combine great looks with ergonomics. We wanted to develop a product that doctors would gladly recommend due to its studied ergonomic functions, parents would buy happily because of durability, and children would want to carry because of the attractive design, ease of use, and collectible accessories.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
SC : A line expansion is already in the works, to include more designs, with another basic color other than black, new frontal designs, as well as a larger size for baggage carry-on in planes, for both adults and children.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
SC : It took about one year to achieve the final design, and 3 more years to achieve the ideal prototype, after taking into account the input from physiotherapists, parents, and children alike.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
SC : As parents tired of purchasing several school trolleys a year because of poorly constructed products that break too easily and do not take ergonomics into account, we were motivated to develop a sturdy design kids would love taking to school, all the while making parents feel good about the fact that their kids are not carrying heavy loads on their backs.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
SC : The design was entirely developed by Nikidom together with a design studio, and is being exclusively manufactured for and distributed by Nikidom.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
SC : As parents of school-aged children, we got tired of purchasing several trolley bags every schoolyear because they break too easily. We decided there must be a way to engineeer a good quality, yet affordable product for school-aged children. As many parents, we want our children to protect their health and prefer to see them carrying heavy loads in a healthy, ergonomic fashion. With available trolley bags so fragile, our children would prefer to carry heavy loads in their backpacks thereby exposing themselves to possible spinal injuries. We believed there must be a way to design a trolley bag that is both durable yet fun for children to take to school.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
SC : Nikidom has worked together with a design studio in Barcelona in the development of the Nikidom Roller product.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
SC : Children aged 7-12, although older children and even adults are currently purchasing the product.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
SC : Nikidom Roller is the first trolley bag with such oversized wheels, measuring 17,5 cm in diameter. It seems like an obvious functional choice, but this had never been done before. The result is a trolley bag that is extremely easy to manoeuver, regardless of how heavily loaded it is.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
SC : The product name is very simple: Nikidom Roller = company name + product function. The word ROLLER is understandable in every language and communicates easily the primary function of the product.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
SC : 3D AliasDesign for generating textures and images, PUR Low Density for volumes and external design, 3D software in Pro-Engineer for the creation of technical files, and Rapid Prototyping from 3D files were the main tools used although there are others.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
SC : The most obvious aspect are the big, indestructible wheels, measuring 17,5cm in diameter. Other important aspects are: the ergonomic handle which allows the bag to be dragged or pushed in front, and the personalization feature with wheel stickers creating optical illusions when in motion, and interchangeable pins to decorate the front protector.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
SC : We worked together with a renowned design studio in Barcelona.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
SC : We studied what would be the best way to make a new schoolbag that would be both attractive to children, while keeping ergonomic studies at the center of the development. We wanted to develop a bag that would be effortless for children to push around, and which they would feel proud to be seen with. We conducted research through questionnaires and personal interviews with over 50 children in different schools throughout Spain, as well as physiotherapists, parents and children, in order to establish what each group considered to be the most important factors in a wheeled schoolbag.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
SC : It has been difficult to develop such a quality product while maintaining manufacturing costs under control. Through creative engineering and an excellent choice of suppliers we have been able to keep the product affordable without having to sacrifice the durability or overall look of the product.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
SC : It is difficult for a small company to get its innovative designs known outside its immediate geographical area, and we sincerely hope to be able to get some recognition through this prestigious award!

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
SC : Learned to trust my gut feeling a lot more, and not to be afraid of being different, even radically different! Also learned to be bold and true to my intuition, even if it goes against the established rules!