As part of their continued collaboration to modernize a heritage brand, Brooks England and IDEO created a design language and a range of cycle bags designed for on and off the bike, with quality, performance and design as guiding principles. The Metropolitan bag collection helps riders carry everything they need without compromising their style and includes six designs—the MOTT M and L Weekender Holdalls, the RIVINGTON Rucksack, the CROSBY Shoulder Bag, the LEXINGTON Briefcase and the MERCER Tote.
The Opportunity Brooks England engaged IDEO to help design a new range of cycle bags, suggesting a collection with a consistent design language. Building on the aesthetics of the previous collaboration designing the Cambium bike saddle, the Metropolitan collection uses vulcanized rubber and treated organic cotton for a water-resistant, modern look.
The design goal of the Metropolitan line was to carry a strong design through all six bags, focusing on natural materials and high functionality. The contrasting bright yellow internal lining gives the bags a distinctive urban design and practicality by brightening the interiors for great visibility. The team put a lot of thought into organizing the internal spaces, adding padded inserts and rubber handles. Much attention was paid to finishing touches, including custom adjustable straps, completely new hardware and careful positioning of the Brooks England nameplate and interior label.
Our Audience The Metropolitan line, as the name suggests, was designed for urban adventurers who want style and utility as they daily navigate their cities by bike. With a growing urban demographic, commuters are opting to ride their bikes around cities, rather than drive cars or take public transit. Cities are being redesigned to encourage more cycle commuting, which is spurring a growing cycling accessories market that needs to be as functional as it is style- and materials-focused. Millennials are also increasingly making sustainability and lifestyle choices that reflect this functional, but stylish sensibility.
Research The IDEO team began its research at the Brooks England flagship store in London, followed by visits to other retail outlets and bike stores, and by observing cyclists on London and San Francisco's city streets. The team observed riders carrying multiple bags on their bikes, tech-sector cyclists needing easy access to the multiple devices they carried, and a subset of city-dwellers who took their bikes on trains as part of their journeys.
The design team also looked at Brooks England's current position in the cycling accessories market and conducted a competitive analysis. They looked at how technical the range needed to be, how the internal spaces would have to accommodate numerous portable devices and accessories, where the balance should lie between fashion and functionality, and how these considerations extended or complemented Brooks England's existing product lines.
All these observations informed the flexibility of the Metropolitan collection.
Our Strategy and Approach Brooks England engaged IDEO to strengthen and evolve its heritage brand by designing the Metropolitan Collection. The cycling accessories company, known globally for its iconic Brooks England leather saddle, wanted a new offering that would stand out from the competition and reflect a new, more modern style. For the Metropolitan collection, IDEO focused on designing the right shapes and details that reflect Brooks England's signature style, while also identifying where the range should introduce new details—like a custom collection of hardware zipper pulls, buckles, fasteners and rivets, as well as handles created in a vulcanized rubber material—for a cohesive and modern collection.
The process began by making sketches and quick paper prototypes. To take the first prototypes to higher fidelity, the team fashioned paper, fabric and rubber prototypes of individual bag details, including visualizing colors and materials, how elements would be sewn, buckle features, and how all of the detailed features connect. The design team spent a lot of time getting to know the key materials and how they corresponded to one another, particularly the treated organic cotton and vulcanized rubber. A large part of the prototyping process required getting the shapes and features just right—whether this was applying new sewing techniques, pattern choices, or retaining useful details from other Brooks England products. As the team neared the end of this iterative process, they prototyped at full scale with paper mockups of the six-bag collection and created 2-D technical drawings to further outline the design process, special applications and key elements. Brooks England designers then worked with factories in Italy to manufacture the bags.
Impact The modern shape and new materials of the Metropolitan collection still reflect strongly what the heritage brand represents—natural materials, quality, performance, and answering to new sensibilities around everyday use. The distinctive bags in the collection have considerable carrying capacity, detachable straps that are easily stowed, riveted vulcanized handles for added durability, waist or chest straps for additional cycling stability, and functional external pockets—such as the RIVINGTON backpack's concealed 15" laptop pocket.
The Metropolitan bag collection steers towards those who use their bikes and gear fairly often, but not to an extreme. They are stylish urban commuters and recreational weekend cyclists, who appreciate heritage, but are far from old-fashioned.
Very well done project with a material focus that was impressive, merging old and new design directions which evolves new character of premium.