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Smart Suitcases With the Latest Technology

New developments in luxury luggage, from space-age materials to cases that can check themselves in


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28 December 2016

What do you do when you have to design a new product? Ask the experts. Tumi turned to Jon Rose, founder of Waves for Water, an organization that provides clean water to communities in need world-wide. Jon spends a lot of his time trekking to the remote places that he helps, and while hiking through Nepal, he was also testing the new Dale and Lyons Backpack in Tumi’s Tahoe collection. Michael Petry, Creative Director at Tumi, said, “The great part about having Jon test-wear the Tahoe collection before it went into production was that we were able to gain an inside look into how our athleisure customer would actually use the products.” Jon said, “My favourite feature of the Dale backpack was the duffel/backpack combination. It felt like a comfortable backpack while over my shoulders, but then the centre zipper down into the main compartment allowed me quick access to anything in my bag at a moment’s notice.”


Most travellers are looking for more conventional luggage, but when it comes to design, the same principle applies: get advice from the people who use it. For their own bespoke luggage collection, Rolls-Royce spoke to head butlers at top hotels, who have to handle suitcases every day. The results are cases in which meticulous attention has been dedicated to the area directly in contact with the owner, the handle, which is smooth and luxurious to touch, made using the same invisible stitching as on the steering wheel of Rolls-Royce cars. Ergonomics is a prime consideration, with wide-track wheels for stability and easy transfer from ground to luggage compartment. The sort of detail design they dedicated to the range is demonstrated by the wheels, which have self-righting centres so that the double-R emblem is always the right way up. Noblesse oblige.

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Rolls Royce Wraith Grand Tourer openRolls-Royce Wraith Grand Tourer

A car like the McLaren 570GT calls for luggage with a similar blend of luxury and performance. The brand’s new weekend luggage collection does the job to perfection, and fits neatly on the car’s Touring Deck and in the front storage area. The design of the cases includes details from the car, such as stitching based on the shape of the car seats, and an interior lining graphic recalling the shape of the car’s side intake.

New areas of luggage performance are being explored. Samsonite’s Smarttop case has a top compartment that can easily be accessed while the case is in the overhead locker, making it quick and easy to take out your phone, tablet or other items without having to take the case down and put it back again.


Rimowa’s Electronic Tag system built into its latest suitcases enables travellers to check in their luggage from home using a smartphone app, so that drop-off at the airport takes just seconds, saving time and reducing stress. At present the system is operational for Lufthansa flights, with plans to extend it to global airline partners. Without doubt it’s a case of superior intelligence.