Interview with Nicola Stäubli from FREITAG


Interview with Nicola Stäubli from FREITAG.

LIGATURE: Hello Nicola, how are you?

Nicola: I am doing great and excited about the final days of our Kickstarter campaign!

L: Can you introduce yourself?

NS: I am a design enthusiast and bicycle aficionado with a degree in architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and 13 years of experience as a bike messenger. From 2006 until 2013 I was running my own design studio in Bern and then moved to Zurich to join FREITAG.

L: How did you come to work for Freitag?

NS: Because of FREITAG’s brand values and its affinity for cycling. I was and still am intrigued by FREITAG’s holistic approach to design. After my years as an independent architect and designer I felt it was time for a change – time to work in a multidisciplinary environment where I could broaden my knowledge and tap into new fields like product management. So in 2013 I started as a product manager at FREITAG. Today I have additional responsibilities allowing me to work closely with our Product Development.

L: Can you tell us more about the new ZIPPELIN? How did the idea come out?

NS: As a former architect, I’m familiar with air-supported structures. One of them being Tensairity™ – a lightweight structural concept that uses low pressure air to stabilize compression against buckling. It is being used not only in architecture but in the outdoor sector as well. There are tents that use pressurized beams to replace the metal poles for lower weight and compact pack size. And as I also used to be a bike messenger and relate everything to bicycles, I guess these two fields just naturally merged into this inflatable travel bag. At one time, I sewed an inner tube into a big piece of tarp, had it inflated, and realized that the pressurized air was indeed able to replace the usual bulky metal structures. That was the moment when I realized, “Hey, this could actually work!” Thanks to our in-house prototyping atelier we then finally managed to make the big step from an unconventional idea to a product ready for manufacturing.

L: What was the major challenge while creating the ZIPPELIN?

NS: ZIPPELIN is by far the biggest FREITAG product ever and it requires five times more tarp than a mid-sized messenger bag. To avoid unnecessary consumption of material we had to segment the volume of the travel bag into smaller pieces of tarp. At the same time we had to find the right layout of these pieces to make them seamlessly join together on both sides of the front zipper. This required many design iterations to find the ideal shape of the tarp cut-outs for ZIPPELIN. Since all our bags are unique pieces made from diverse fragments of different tarps, this will remain a challenge in production.

L: Can you tell us the story behind the names of Freitag bags?

NS: A lot of FREITAG bags have names from characters of movies and TV series or names from meritorious journalists and publishers. For our travel products we choose names from spaceships. And since an inflatable bicycle inner tube gives our latest travel bag its structure and is the core of its unusual construction, the notion of an air ship, a Zeppelin, came up. And the very same inner tube – protected with its own compartment made of used truck tarpaulins – is accessible through a zipper. That’s why we started to call it ZIPPELIN during product development– and stuck to it!

L: What is your favourite piece from all your products?

NS: Apart from ZIPPELIN I really like F262 JULIEN. It is a tote bag that includes an additional strap. Once fixed on the outside of the bag, the tote magically transforms into a backpack. At FREITAG we call this simplexity – one of my favorite design principles!

Tiffany Bähler
Dennis Moya