Arcido began in response to a growing demand for high-quality travel backpacks, which prioritize functionality, versatility, and durability. Co-founder, Felix, has traveled the world searching for the very best materials and manufacturing techniques, trying out every option until he found something he could be proud of. Although this is a technical process, drawing and improving on the science behind the best available products, it is also an exercise in creativity.

To go beyond that which already exists, Arcido needed to break new ground. This begins with a clear vision, aimed at making a life on the road easier and promoting a minimalist, focused lifestyle. Ultimately, it is the customers that drive Arcido towards designing and building ever more functional bags, which meets their needs without adding unnecessary features. We asked Felix about his creative process, inspiration, and how he achieves Arcido's unbeatable build quality.

What does your creative process look like?

It starts and ends with the customers, people who use our products. Or rather, it doesn't end, it's more of a cycle because our products evolve according to our user's needs. Initially, when we founded Arcido, we held focus group meetings of a small number of friends to really understand user needs when traveling with just a carry-on backpack. Now, we have thousands of people using our bags and are contacted regularly by people offering suggestions or identifying opportunities for improvement. From this, we set a specification for the requirements and desirables for the product and get to work.

I used to spend weeks on end behind a sewing machine building samples for testing, but that's not possible now that I'm on the road. Now, I put together design documents with clear illustrations and measurements which I pass to our factory to work on. Our factory is fantastic at developing samples from my designs but always requires many sample rounds until we get the product ready for production. When we receive the samples, they go through rigorous testing so we can identify as many opportunities for improvement. It's a back and forth process with the factory until we've ironed out the details.

What tools do you use when you design? Which tools do you use during each design stage?

Pen and paper initially then usually move on to paper modeling so scissors a scalpel and rulers are essential. Once I've got a good idea of the design in a physical space, I move on to drawing on my computer and use a Wacom Cintiq 13HD tablet. It's a super cool bit of kit and always brings a lot of attention when I'm sitting in a cafe!

Who inspires you or What product inspires you?

There are so many people doing really interesting things with 'carry products' and one of my favorite blogs, Carryology, showcases some of the exciting things people are doing in this field. Kickstarter is also a great source of inspiration. There are a lot of gimmicks on the platform, quite like the shopping channel on TV although it's really cool to see people pushing boundaries too.

I really like to listen to music while I work. I'm currently listening to Nicola Cruz. His beats really get me in the zone.

What's the last thing you learned?

I'm learning Spanish at the moment as I'm traveling around Latin America.. Were you expecting me to give you an answer related to travel products? I just discovered the origin of the term Dopp Kitt. The first was designed by Jerome Harris for his uncle Charles Doppelt, a German immigrant to Chicago in the early 1900s. So it's presumably an abbreviated form of Mr. Doppelt's family name.

Tell us something that most people probably don't know about backpack design.

The best technical backpacks are made in South East Asia, particularly in Vietnam and the Philippines, not China. They're almost exclusively owned by Korean companies. I'm not 100% sure how this came to be, but I think it could be that Korea used to dominate this industry, but the labor cost became uncompetitive.

Did you always want to be a bag designer?

No! I studied Product Design at Edinburgh College of Art with a period studying at Lund University in Sweden. In my final year, I worked on two projects, one of which was a versatile backpack for people who split their time between the city and the countryside. I look back at this first pack and see many things which could be better, but for a first pack, I think it was pretty good considering I hadn't done a lot of sewing before starting the project.

What is your vision for the Arcido brand?

We are trying to help people have a better time when they travel by making gear which makes their life easier as they move. We've started by making backpacks which help people organize their stuff, but I'd like to do more in the way of accessories which work together as part of a system. This said, I'm a bit of a minimalist and want to stay focused on people's pain points rather than the products which people think they need. Having more products/stuff isn't necessarily better.

You were born in Winchester, England and studied in Scotland and Sweden. How does living and working now in Colombia and Mexico differ?

All of the places that I've lived have their benefits. I'm super happy living in Latin America, and I feel that as my Spanish improves, I'm only going to like it more! My favorite things about Latin America are the people, the food, and the weather. Studying in Sweden was a fantastic experience. Swedes are really good at working efficiently and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and I'm trying to keep it that way here. I'm now getting into settling into life back in Mexico City having been on the move for much of the last year. While I love traveling, I really appreciate having roots somewhere. I'll be heading back to Vietnam to visit our manufacturer later this year.

It's been quite the journey for Felix, but it's far from over. Constant communication between the product designers, manufacturers, and users of the backpacks means that there will always be a gradual improvement towards the somewhat mythological idea of the perfect travel bag. Felix continues to be inspired to create new products to meet the differing needs of customers and to update existing bags to have even more useful features and increased durability. As a relatively new company, it is exciting to think where Arcido might go next.
Written by Thom Brown