“Working with an airline is like working with a country. The politics, the bureaucratic issues—not to mention health and safety—there are huge challenges on every level, really. Just being able to track your bag at any moment during your trip—so much about the aviation industry is lacking. In some ways, it’s inherently technologically driven, and in many others it’s retarded. Things are so slow, so expensive and so mystified. Aviation is a touchy-feely industry—the interface between the airline and the customer is still very traditional. For it to work well, it needs to be very personal.
I designed a range of luggage for Samsonite almost 10 years ago, and we thought then, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great to be able to embed something in this piece of luggage that would let you know where it was at any moment?’ Ten years later, with the RFID chip, the technology is mature. So embedding that into a luggage tag seemed like a no-brainer. It offered the opportunity to redesign something as inane as a luggage tag to the point where you think, ‘Maybe people would actually like to have this on their bag, because it looks really, really cool.’ That led us to create a physical object [Newson’s Q Bag Tag, for Qantas, lets travelers track their luggage in real time] people were proud to have on their bag. That’s what all airlines are trying to achieve, but they’re all doing it in the same way, with their silly little cards that you hang on dopey fake leather straps. And as a designer you think, ‘This is just crying out to be done!'”
-Industrial designer Marc Newson in the May issue of WSJ. Magazine