STANDOUT: NETTA DOR SHALGI OF G-RO
By Vic Gerami
Meet Netta Dor Shalgi, founder and lead designer of G-RO luggage, a brand known to many jetsetters, frequent travelers and those interested in innovative, cutting-edge and great-looking products.
With extensive experience in product design and development, Netta created a new, innovative spinner wheel design to compliment G-RO’s signature patented large axle-less wheel.
Starting with his Airforce career, G-RO founder Netta Dor Shalgi found himself traveling extensively around the world, lugging lots of equipment, and ultimately breaking every single piece of luggage he used. Seeing the world from this perspective, with his extensive experience with luggage wheels he quickly realized that the industry standards and the offerings on the current market are not in line with the requirements of people with a busy traveling profile.
After completing his service, while in university studying industrial design, he began to take his first steps as a designer, and immediately saw the potential for a next-generation luggage. But, the process that leads to the construction of luggage today is led by an industry that has only marginally evolved from the past – beginning in the days of traveling with trunks to the days of passengers crossing the Atlantic in ocean liners. No one has ever revolutionized the luggage concept.
Meanwhile, the behavior of travelers has been affected by many factors and has changed entirely. First with the continuous advances in technology – computers that have dramatically shrunken and smartphones that together let people work remotely from anywhere. Second, the revolution in air travel has made it much more accessible, both with reduction in prices and increased availability of flights. Third is the general globalization trend. Between these dramatic changes, a new type of traveler has emerged that simply didn’t exist before.
But G-RO luggages are not simply advanced in innovation and technology. They are just as exquisite and aesthetically pleasing as they are cutting-edge and practical. I caught up with Netta between his trips around the globe to talk about his background, G-RO and what drives him.
‘I quickly realized that the industry standards and offerings on the current
market were not in line with the needs of people with a busy traveling profile’
You are an industrial designer. What inspired you to design luggage and start your own brand G-RO?
Starting during my Air Force career, I found myself constantly traveling around the world, lugging lots of equipment, and ultimately breaking every single piece of luggage I used. I quickly realized that the industry standards and offerings on the current market were not in line with the needs of people with a busy traveling profile. I saw this opportunity to change the concept of luggage, and during my studies of industrial design, I decided to take on the challenge.
What makes G-RO different from other luggage brands?
Our bags have a very distinct look and unique functionality because we don’t start with a “template” design and make modifications; instead, we design our luggage from scratch, based on extensive research, and by focusing on modern travelers’ needs that haven’t been met by today’s market. As far as the specific features that stand out the most from the rest of the industry, our wheels and handles are the most notable. Our patented GravityRollTM wheels are large-diameter, axle-less, can conquer any terrain, and they are completely unique. With the new SIX, the angled handle, which enables the push configuration, is a distinct mark.
‘We are targeting professionals who have reached a stage in their lives where they need to travel constantly through various weather conditions and across different terrains’
Who is your target market and demographic?
We are targeting professionals who have reached a stage in their lives where they need to travel constantly through various weather conditions and across different terrains. They have higher quality requirements and the gear they’re lugging directly affects their performance. They cannot afford to have a piece of equipment hold them back.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from the Holon Institute of Technology (HIT) in Israel, Netta started with his own business for industrial design, Nettashalgi.com, providing design and planning services to companies, such as Intel, Alcatel-Lucent and Elbit Systems, and furniture, lifestyle and design companies. In addition, he also develops “Turn-Key” solutions from concept to production for projects requiring process management services.
For four years, Netta was the Design & Product Development director of a medical device start-up, with responsibility for executing projects from start through completion, including clinical trials, standardization, sales and marketing.
Netta executed a successful crowd-funding campaign to start G-RO, which is still a small company, conducting large operations with their own unique method. They are a paperless company, mainly because their R&D team members are constantly traveling and collaborating remotely. Their process begins with extensive research, the findings of which are eventually narrowed down to a singular document: the design brief. This document takes these findings and translates them into clear objectives to deliver in the product design. It acts as an architectural framework for the design and includes every detail that will be incorporated in the product.
Netta introduced a unique philosophy and core values of serve, heal and inspire, to be the guiding force behind G-RO’s development.
What are some of the most important elements that you consider when designing a new luggage?
Our unique design process is heavily user-centric. Luggage is an equation of weight, durability, packing capacity and price. Balancing all the elements of this equation, to find the point at which we are meeting the market requirements in each of these elements, drives our design process.
‘Our bags are easily recognizable from a distance and often
become a talking point for users’
What is G-RO’s recognizable signature look/feature?
Our large-diameter GravityRollTM wheels are definitely the stand out feature visually. Our bags are easily recognizable from a distance and often become a talking point for users (whether two G-RO owners are meeting or one is being asked about the bag by another traveler).
What are some of the ways that today’s fast-changing and busy lifestyle, realities of travel security and cost, shape your designs?
Everything has to be simple and straightforward (while still offering advanced performance and functionality). With each design element, we take into account how it will affect the end user (i.e. compliance with current or potential future regulations), how to meet the market requirements, and how it will be affected throughout our global manufacturing and supply chain process. Every design needs to satisfy all of these needs.
The new G-RO SIX is all about introducing a never-before-seen interface that will make the travel experience effortless. After years of research and development, G-RO developed the concept of ‘push’ luggage for effortless maneuverability, while navigating crowded places and narrow airplane aisles — it’s as easy as pushing a baby stroller. With the new push configuration, the user’s bodyweight acts as a counterbalance allowing for zero additional energy to be exerted while rolling the bag.
‘I’m passionate about offering visibility into my own personal path in hopes that it may help others who have struggled or are struggling similarly’
For this year’s Pride Month, you created a limited edition SIX luggage, with a customized Pride design on its wheels. What inspired you to do that?
This is something I’ve been wanting to do for many years as an openly gay designer, but this year is the first time that the whole company/organization is able to support this kind of venture. I’m passionate about offering visibility into my own personal path in hopes that it may help others who have struggled or are struggling similarly. Considering our structural design in which everything is functional, we wanted to take a stand and do something to support self-expression, without taking away from the other design elements or the functionality of the bag.
Do you have an ideal client?
Our ideal client is someone following their passion and dreams who can never be stopped or slowed down by a piece of luggage.
Where do you see G-RO in five years?
As an established brand that is the go-to brand for people who need to leave home with the perfect gear for their travels. Leader of the industry, synonymous with an on-the-go lifestyle.
Would you like to add anything for those who may not be familiar with G-RO or something I did not cover?
There are two stages for a new user discovering G-RO: one that you see and one that you can only experience with use. We call this second stage the “G-RO moment,” where the user is experiencing and aware in real time that their G-RO is “working for them” by aiding the user in some way.