Reflexion DSLR Cross-body Bag
Designer Q&A: Creating the Reflexion Cross-body bag from sketch
Case Logic recently won the prestigious International Red Dot Award. With this, we wanted to spotlight the design and designer behind the Reflexion Cross-body DSLR bag. We caught up with Senior Designer, Nathan Zwetzig, who talks us through the design process, the importance of observation and his relationship with photography.
What inspired this design?
The Reflexion Cross-body bag is designed to be taken everywhere one goes while keeping the camera readily accessible for capturing photo opportunities whenever they might happen in a normal day.
The inspiration was really just….life. You know, day to day life. It’s not a specialized solution, it's a very versatile solution for anyone, everywhere.
Who was this bag designed for?
I didn’t have a singular character or consumer in mind, but many. Sometimes I was imagining a young college student, like my younger sister, trekking across campus with her camera in tow with all of her other daily essentials heading to photo class. Other times I thought about the mother of two on a Saturday morning setting up to watch her 4th grader’s soccer game, needing all items for the day as well as a safe spot for the camera. It was designed to be versatile enough for anyone out, exploring life and wanting to capture those memories. It was fun to think of in so many different ways.
Talk us through the process of choosing the material.
Choosing the fabric wasn’t as easy of a process as I originally thought. We wanted the fabric to be the primary visual element of interest on the bag. We actually had to custom develop the fabric to make sure that it had the right colors, contrast and durability as well as softness to make everything function. We worked with our fabric mill partner to make sure the thread weights were going to be the right weight and texture for the bag. We wanted it to be soft, approachable and fashionable but not so trendy that it wouldn’t pair with all the different styles people would be wearing.
Which design element is your favorite?
I guess the obvious answer is the wide-mouth opening. But I would have to be honest and say my favorite feature is the long zip across the front of the bag. When I was testing the bag in Europe it was one of my most utilized pockets for quickly stashing everything that I had to tuck away.
What did you find yourself stuffing into that pocket?
I had my magazines, my passport, my train ticket stub and I think I even had to put some of my travel companion’s food in there at one point. It was just really nice to have that spare pocket right on the front where I could get in and out.
What is your relationship/background with photography?
I have some training. I took classes at a local digital photography studio which really helped me out. As a designer, photography has always been part of my process and education in making sure that I am documenting my observations. Observation is a huge part of a designer’s job and being able to do that in a beautiful manner is very important.
My current relationship with photography is traveling around to the urban city-centers I am fortunate enough to visit in my career and documenting the architecture and urban landscapes.
I do my best to get the camera out in spring and summer for hiking and nature photography up in the mountains. Mostly macros and some wide landscape shots. I’ve tried wildlife photography but it’s much more challenging than I think I’m ready for at this stage in my amateur career.
Tell us about your process in the very beginning stages of a design.
The design process starts with a general idea and maybe even a caricature of one of the many users we might imagine – say the mother on the soccer field – and from there we look at the context of use and find real needs that can then be solved. For example, with the Reflexion line, the conflict of having to carry a bag full of personal items for the day and a separate camera bag was really the fundamental need. Once that need is identified, the fun starts with getting to take a pen to paper and sketching. I’ll do hundreds of early sketch drawings, concepts and storyboarding while developing specific user scenarios to test early ideas.
What tools do you use to design?
The first set of tools I use would generally be…eyes and ears. As I said, observation is eighty percent of the job so just being able to see what’s going on out there and find the need is important. From there, a lot of it is sketched out by hand. We make the patterns for early prototypes with just a knife, scissors and paper patterns. From the early concept sketches, we immediately start sewing things up.
Once the design is about eighty percent figured out we will move into more digital tools to do fancy product renderings. We use these to help sell the concept internally before we have a physical product to show. We do our product specifications for building the bags using the Adobe Creative Suite.
What is one of the biggest challenges as a designer?
I believe one of the biggest challenges is being able to overcome the initial excitement surrounding a great idea. Sometimes it’s very easy to become inspired and get other people inspired and have everyone just hungry, wanting to see the idea finalized tomorrow. The challenge is to curb our enthusiasm, so to speak, and make sure that we can engineer it correctly and get it done right instead of just getting it done.
Reflexion DSLR Cross-body Bag
About the designer
Nathan Zwetzig is the Senior Product Designer for Case Logic. With professional roots in consulting and fitness equipment design, Nathan has a decade of experience designing sewn goods. His passion for teaching has led to working as a mentor and adjunct instructor to design students at The Art Institute of Colorado and Denver’s Metropolitan State University. Nathan loves the great outdoors and takes advantage of the nearby Rocky Mountains by climbing 14’ers, mountain biking, backpacking and wood-fire cooking in his free time.