Dell will this week unveil something of a misnomer: a laptop bag you'd be proud to be seen with.
Conscious that most portable PC carrycases are black, bulky and not particularly well suited to portability, Dell asked London College of Fashion students to help it come up with something radically different.
"Today's laptops are slim, sexy and outrageously good-looking . . . but laptop bags are still firmly in the doldrums," read Dell's brief. The PC maker invited 350 students from the London College of Fashion to submit their designs for a "fun, fashionable and colourful case" to house its recently-launched ultra-slim Inspiron 4100 notebook.
Sandra Rogers, general manager of Dell's UK and Ireland consumer division, said the idea for a rethink of the laptop bag came about when she first joined the company two years ago: "I was offered a selection of bags to choose from. They were all black or, if you were really lucky, brown leather – very much for the male professional."
By asking fashion students to come up with new ideas, Dell hopes it will give its products a broader market appeal, attracting women, students and young professionals. Red or Dead designer Wayne Hemingway announced the winning design on the Big Breakfast TV show this morning.
The winning designer, 24-year-old Darren Murphy, wanted to get away from the repetition and simplicity of most laptop bags currently on the market. His "colourful and tactile" rucksack/courier bag design was thought by the judges to be the most likely to appeal to a broad range of customers and to be adaptable to a range of lifestyle needs.
Judges included our very own features editor Rosemary Haworth (pictured), Jason Roberts, director of bag and clothing manufacturer Planet 21 UK which designs and manufactures Dell's current laptop bag range, Suzi Vaughan, accessories course head at the London College of Fashion, and Selina Knight of Dell's software and peripherals division.
The judges choose the design they felt would be the most likely to appeal to a broad range of customers and to be adaptable to a range of lifestyle needs.
The bag is to house its slimline Inspiron 4100 portable PCs, launched last month. The 2.7kg notebook, which has a base specification of an 866MHz Mobile Pentium III processor, 128MB of RAM and a 10GB hard disk, starts at £899 ex VAT.
A limited edition, the bag will initially be manufactured in a run of 500, and will be available via Dell's website. The winning designer will work with Planet 21 UK, which produces Dell's current laptop bag range, to produce a 'lifestyle'-focused range of laptop bags and accessories.