From pain in the neck to big idea Matt 07 Dec 2005

17 comments Latest by Dead Bird in Hand

Looking for a “big idea”? Start off by seeking a solution to one of your own problems. See, chances are others are feeling the same pain. Find a cure and these fellow sufferers will pay up for it.

Case in point: Bird in Hand. Unlike traditional shoulder bags, which experts say cause neck and back pain, Bird in Hand bags are designed to be clutched or carried in the crook of the arm.

Bird in Hand founder and designer Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff had her eureka moment when she forgot her shoulder bag on a business trip and was forced to carry a clutch for seven days. By the time she got home, her persistent and nagging shoulder and neck pain was gone. Several hundred “research” bags later, Rachel hit upon the formula for the perfect bag, and Bird in Hand was born.

It’s the same technique we’ve used for our products. Basecamp started because managing projects was a pain in the neck for us. Writeboard started because collaborating on text was a pain in the neck for us. No pain, no gain.

17 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Dan Saffer 07 Dec 05

But isn’t this why technology products suck: because they are designed by technologists for technologists? “I understand it, so it must make sense!” It’s not all about us. Whatever happened to designers solving other people’s problems?

Lucy 07 Dec 05

It’s probably a great idea, but the Bird in Hand site has no pictures of the object actually in use! Sure, there are dimensions of the bags listed, but no picture of an actual human carrying the bag - so the concept isn’t actually being capitalised on - they just look like regular handbags…

Not only should one solve the problem, but one should also show how the problem has been solved. Which would be easy in this case!

Jim Thompson 07 Dec 05

What I’m wondering is why one kind of bag causes pain, but the other doesn’t. My guess, based on what I’ve seen of my wife’s purses, is that women tend to overload their traditional purses; that strap encourages the user to stuff it with lots of things. Clutches are smaller and have to fit into one hand, so the carrier has to be more selective about what she puts into it. If this is so, then the real innovation here is not that the Bird in Hand bag is intrinsically better, but that it’s better because it changes the way it the handbag used.

(It’s strange to use the word clutch without also writing things like “pressure plate” and “throwout bearing”).

Eddie 07 Dec 05

What Lucy said. The whole point is the great idea that solves some problem, but they show no picture of it! If I saw that without the 37sigs intro, I would never have thought it was anything more than a regular handbag. In fact, I’m still not sure what the advantage is. What does “designed to be clutched” actually mean? It’s not even elaborated on in the “Key Design Elements” section.

Jens Meiert (of 07 Dec 05

“It�s probably a great idea, but the Bird in Hand site has no pictures of the object actually in use!”

Miss that, too.

Andy Atkinson 07 Dec 05

This is the same philosophy I have when deciding on articles to write. My site is evolving into more of a “tips and tricks” site, not really selling a product, but basically I take my “pains in the tech” and figure out a way to solve them, document it, and write an article. And one more thing, I keep a ta-da list that I share with contributing author(s) or article ideas—thanks!

Don Wilson 07 Dec 05

Nice post.

Tony 07 Dec 05

Well, Lucy, et al, one can clearly see that those bags are lacking in shoulder straps and therefore cannot be carried on one’s shoulder. Pictures in use would be nice, but are they neccessary?

Eddie 07 Dec 05

I went to the doctor the other day.

I said: “doctor, it hurts when I do this…”

The doctor said: “well, stop doing that.”

But seriously folks… it’s a balance of simplicity and convenience. After this catches on as the “less is more(less)!/no more straps/sore necks craze, I’ll release the following public statement:
“are you tired of holding your coffee in one hand, and your clutch in the other.. only to find your cell phone ringing and you have set something down? Don’t you wish you had a free hand? Well, here’s the answer.. it’s the ‘Bird on my Side’ bag!… with spare hand producing strap!” On sale now at all Al’s Bag Marts.

Shouldn’t there be focus instead on designing a strap that doesn’t cause neck/back pain?

Eddie 07 Dec 05

…like say the over the head messenger bag type straps?

Any load that is heavy is going to be comfortable, weather carried on your shoulder or in hand. I guess if you are hold it though you could switch hands easier.

Tony 07 Dec 05

A woman can always put her forearm through the handle and hold it in the crook of her arm (as noted in the post above) to free up her hand.

Lucy 08 Dec 05

Tony, the point is that Bird in Hand are citing medical experts, etc, to say that the key differentiator for their bags is the fact that they are not carried on the shoulder, but ‘clutched’…

There are thousands of clutch style bags out there. And thousands of web sites selling clutch style bags. Like Eddie says, any woman (or man, for that matter) can pop out to Al’s Bag Mart to pick one up. So what’s special about Bird in Hand? Nothing, really… Just a marketing gimmick. So if you’re going to move units of these things, why not help yourself a little bit by providing (say) pictures of the bag with the conveniently located interior pockets, or a picture of the site owner carrying one of her bags and looking particularly happy and comfortable… Just my two cents, if it were my site… etc…

Rich 08 Dec 05

Wow! A bag…WITH HANDLES! Amazing!

Megan Holbrook 08 Dec 05

Having had experience with the neck & back pain of carrying a regular purse (albeit a /rather large/ one), I can’t imagine that holding a purse in the crook of the arm is going to make it any better. It’s all about the imbalance of weight your body is carrying that causes the problem.

I bought a backpack style purse - no relation to 37s’ Backpack ;) - that evens out the weight distribution and that has made a huge difference.

Jeff 12 Dec 05

Isn’t this idea, like, thousands of years old? I don’t get it.

Dead Bird in Hand 24 Feb 06

Beware The Bird in Hand.

My husband purchased one of these for me for Christmas after hearing about it on CNN and thinking I would like it. Definitely a mistake - not my sort of bag (vinyl and bamboo? WHAT was he thinking)….

Anyway, Ms. Sarnoff refused to take the bag back and refund our money - in direct conflict with her website’s claim that she wants her customers to be happy with their purchase and offering a full refund for unused bags.

Buyers BEWARE.