The Wanderer Gadget Bag and WanderWiz

Product Design

Project Year
Spring 2023
Project Type
Professional Academic Collaboration
UX Design, Product Design, User Research
Kalynn Porter, Lisa Veta, Hawa Camara, Ben Denzinger (Mentor)
Winner of 2023 MaCher Design Challenge

Project Description

An academic project done in collaboration with MaCher, a sustainable product design company and certified B Corporation, in a competition against our classmates. Where our team was tasked to reimagine MaCher's gadget case; one of five key products that MaCher provides for their clients. We were also required to create a digital companion to accompany the physical product. Our team redesigned the gadget case into more of a gadget bag. What we call "The Wander Bag" is designed with removable inserts that allow for adaptive storage and multiple configurations to wear or carry the bag. The digital companion the "Wander Wiz" is an SMS-based digital concierge. Assisting the user through any questions, problems, or even recommendations. Where our team won the competition between our classmates and were able to work with MaCher further. Creating spec sheets to get official product samples of our gadget bag from their manufacturer.

View Prototype
Project brief inside of MaCher's office


The problem our team aimed to solve was for student travelers, providing them with a versatile gadget case that could be used for a myriad of purposes on their trip. The digital companion makes the pre-, post, and during-trip activities more enjoyable. Over the course of the project, we faced a myriad of challenges, from strict design constraints to cost management, environmental and sustainability concerns, and a few patent concerns.


Through our research and user interviews, our team gained valuable insights into the challenges faced by individuals using traditional gadget cases. We found that a common frustration revolves around the lack of adaptability in storing and organizing tech essentials. Students then expressed the desire for adaptability in use.


For the physical product our solution was “The Wanderer Gadget Bag”. A versatile modular case with removable organizing inserts that easily transforms the standard gadget case into the wanderer, a perfect travel companion for student travelers.

The digital companion solution was the “Wander Wiz”. An SMS-based digital concierge that aided the user through any pre-trip planning, providing recommendations for activities on their trip, and engaging with users after their trip by recommending similar experiences the user can attend at home.

Final Prototype of 'The Wanderer Gadget Bag'
Product shot of final phsyical prototype 'The Wanderer Gadget Bag'
Screenshots of digital concierge 'WanderWiz'


In our exploration phase we first identified the most popular Gadget Cases on the current market. We looked at their similarities and differences, what we thought was useful and where we saw room for improvement. We focused on the direct buyer feedback, combing through user reviews looking for patterns, trends, and pain points. These were the direct user insights that informed our design. We toyed around with the concept of turning the case into a bag early on in our brainstorming process.

Concept sketch #1
Concept sketch #2
Concept sketch #3
Positive review of existing gadget case
Negative review of existing gadget case



After reviewing user reviews of currently existing gadget cases and our own personal experience with similar products. From the sketches our team was then tasked with creating 3D renders from our sketches. Allowing us to nail down some of the smaller details like the D-rings on the back of the bag. Creating models gave us the opportunity to understand the form factor we were working in and what we’d realistically be able to implement on the bag. As well as for ways to ensure we’d be able to add the key design features we drew in our sketches. Exploded views gave the opportunity to ensure everything would fit within the confines of the bag, while also leaving room for the user to put their items. It also enabled us to examine how the different features of the bag would interact, to ensure that there was no overlap or colliding pieces.

3D model front view render
3D model strap detail
Exploded view of 3D model
Detailed 3D model exploded view

The last step we took before working on a finalized design was to create a physical model. For this model measurements were taken from a bag that MaCher gave to us as a sample of what they already had produced. The creation of this prototype started with a 3D modeling of a basic frame for the 3 main components of the bag. I made paper stencils for the material that would cover there frames. Ensuring the material is cut to the proper size. Then taking backpacks from the dollar store and ripping them apart. Where the material and components were used to create the prototype. We then shared our prototypewith our classmates, family, and mentor at MaCher Ben Denzinger. Giving us valuable feedback on the design of our bag, that also helped our team with an idea of how to proceed to the final creation phase.

3D frame of prototype in Prusa Slicer
Hot gluing material to frame
Finished prototype version 1.0
Video of first prototype being made


For our digital companion we played around with the idea of designing an app. We bounced around with ideas for the app possibly being something like a tracker for the bag, a reward game to encourage repeated trips from students, and conciegre. The goal for our digital companion was to make it as easy as possible to integrate. From our research we also found that most people do not like having to install new apps for every product they buy. As well as companies not enjoying the idea of having to hire programers to create or add on to an already exisitng companion app. Which led to our idea of utilzing an SMS messenger.

Flow of what we wanted our digital component to do
Screenshots of inspiration
Mock-up of potential messenger app

Final Concepts


Before finshing our physical prototype we needed to consider details such as material for the bag (straps, zippers, and other components). For the material of the bag there were 3 possible options. Washable Fabric, Technik Leather, and rPET (recycled polyethlene terephthalate) each having strengths and drawbacks; we decided to go with rPET 600D. The reasons being its afforadability, especially when compared to pricer alternatives like the washable fabric. The material is more suited for student travel,where they are expected to treat the bag roughly. On top of that rPET is made of recycled bottles, meaning it is a sustainable material, which aligns with MaCher's goal as a certified B Corp to reduce enviornmental impact. For the hardware of the bag like the d-rings, straps and zippers we went with rPET as well.

Product shot inside of prototype
Photo of prototype in MaCher office
Product shot of prototype

The final design our team created for the physical product is called "The Wanderer Gadget Bag"—a flexible,adjustable, and, most importantly, reusable solutioncrafted to fit the versatile and functional needs of traveling students. After several design iterations and careful consideration of features and design, at the front of the bag, there is a pocket for easy access with a covered zipperthat provides a layer of safety but still allows for quick access to items. Opening the bag reveals a pocket with an elastic strapthat securely holds your items in place. Before moving to the other side of the bag, there is a removable divider in the middle. On the front side of that divider, there are varying sizes of elastic straps, creating easy opportunities for storage. On the back side of the divider, there is another pocket with a zipper. Within the main compartment of the bag is the modular storage. The edges of the bag are lined with Velcro, allowing the dividers to attach via the Velcro to the side of the bag. Creating an almost infinite number of configurations to store just about anything. There is an additional pocket for very quick storage on the back of the bag. On the outside of the bag, there are also four D-rings that the strapconnects to, creating opportunities for the bag to be worn in a number of ways.

Worn as a cross body bag
Worn as an over the shoulder bag
Worn as a backpack

Additionally, some challenges we faced when coming up with the final design were patents/copyrights on design features, material cost, and form factor. During the design process, the form factor was something our team slowly overlooked the further we got into designing. The bag was gradually being scaled up to fit some of the loftier features we had in mind. Our mentor, Ben, advised us to keep the product exciting but not to drown it out in features that'd make it stray away from our original goal. Material cost also came to bite us in the end; our product was the most expensive in the class at $16.50 per unit(considering materials, duty, tariff, and labor. But the most significant hurdle we had to overcome was existing patents. A design feature I had in mind for the divider in the bag had to be changed due to an existing system. The elastic straps were initially meant to be laid out in a grid pattern to make even more storage options. However, due to a company having a patent on something similar, we were advised to steer away from that design. Resulting in the elastic straps being laid out only horizontally.


3D frame of prototype in Prusa Slicer
3D frame of prototype in Prusa Slicer
3D frame of prototype in Prusa Slicer

Meet Wren, the face of Wander Wizard a Digi-Dog Concierge. Wren is a Welsh Corgi who is a magical dog that has traversed the globe 100 times over. Ultimately, we wanted Wren to be a fun and approachable information source, and what could be better than a cute little corgi? The one big reason we chose an SMS Messenger is because it's simple, not for our sake but for the sake of the adopter of this product. During our research, we found that only a few companies were fond of having an app made because of the cost and development that follows. However, with an SMS-based system, that takes a lot of those worries away. We also found existing SMS messaging plans for large companies. Meaning that implementation is going to be simple and user data is more safely kept.

Stuff animal
Enamel pin

With less time spent on the development of the system, it allowed us to create a story for the digital concierge. Taking inspiration from our teammates, Kalynn Porter's dog, Winnie, an adorable Welsh Corgi. We believed that creating a mascot could make the user experience of an otherwise very bland interaction feel more filled with character. Wren additionally provides the opportunity for merchandise, which, paired with clever branding and marketing, could lead to a unique and identifiable symbol for traveling students. This could not only prove useful in the safety of students while on the trip, but also create community when home.

Going Further

As a close to this project and the semester, each team presented our physical and digital project to MaCher and partners. Then, a winner was chosen from four teams, and we were lucky enough to be that team. Meaning we got to take our project further with MaCher. Meeting with Ben to review the design with the feedback we got from the presentation event. Refining the design further and creating a spec sheet to be sent to a manufacturer they have a relationship with. Where they created high quality samples of the bag to my design specifications. Seeing what we made come to life was an amazing experience and made all the hard work feel even better. Working on the spec sheet reminded me a lot of drawing sheets I had to do while in the engineering pathway in high school. It's given me a lot of respect for creating soft goods.

Outside of factory sample
Straps configured to be worn as a backpack
Main compartmen of factory sample
Screenshot of spec sheet


This project gave me a lot of insight into how the design process plays out in the real world. Especially within product design, where I learned a lot about working with a team and navigating many tricky situations that come with being in a team. As well as working with a client and being constricted by things like our budget or ensuring we do not infringe on any existing copyrighted designs. One of our largest design challenges was creating innovations for a product that felt already explored to death. It felt as if every idea we came up with had already been done before. But it was during our design research phase that our mentor gave us the advice Ben Denzinger that only some things we design had to be completely original ideas. On top of creating our digital companion, we were very overwhelmed as a team. But I think we ended up developing a highly adaptable upgrade that remained faithful to MaCher's initial product. Moreover, we streamlined the design of our digital companion to ensure it was not only user-friendly but also readily deployable for any of MaCher's partner companies. Which I believe that these two pivotal components were the reason that our team won the MaCher Design Challenge, and were given the opportunity to further our design. By creating a spec sheet and getting test samples made by an actual manufacturer. Working on this project gave me a lot of respect for a field I hardly knew anything about. Soft goods were never a medium of creation I thought to explore, but leaving this project has me interested in ways to explore this medium more. Another project I'm sure I'll get sucked into eventually.

Certificate for winning MaCher Design Challenge


Additional photos, videos, and info about the project

Opening and showing the factory sample
Mock up of 3D model in an enviornment
Mock up of 3D model in an enviornment
Detailed sketch
Photoshop idea mock up #1
Photoshop idea mock up #2
Original MaCher gadget case
Alternate 3D model #1
Alternate 3D model #2