Quick Review | Nau Fluent Stash
Why it caught my eye
There’s no way around it, I am a big Nau fan. The Portland, Oregon company just gets it. They are a responsible corporate entity, they try to source sustainably when possible, and above all else, they make incredibly well fitting and functional clothing. In addition to their successful clothing line, Nau recently started making accessories.
When a company that is known for quality goods in one particular market or field decides to branch out, I take note. If it’s a company that I admire, I hold my breath. Are they too confident? How far off from their primary product line is this new venture?
One of the products from their new accessories line that Nau are releasing is called the Fluent Stash and I was lucky enough to be sent one a while back to check out. Upon first glance, there’s nothing new here. As you are aware, wool and felt are extremely popular products right now. Just go on Etsy or follow any design/carry blog and you’ll see that it’s the go to material for iPad, Kindle, and Macbook cases and sleeves. And why not? It’s soft enough to cut and sew yet firm enough (reminds me of thin cardboard) that it lends rigidity and protection to whatever it is holding.
What makes the Fluent Stash different?
First of all, it’s not a traditional pouch. It is precision cut and folded, much like an origami puzzle. When you open it up, you are presented with four compartments to hold your travel items. The top pocket is covered with a see through mesh with a very fine weave. When I go on a trip, there’s a bunch of things I want easy access to. They are always on my body or, more likely, in my carry-on bag or backpack. I tried loading up the Fluent Stash with the a variety of items ranging from small compressible ear plugs to the bulky case for my earbuds.
What I liked
The material choice (wool felt) was great. It provided ample protection yet was soft so it would not cause any damage if it was placed in a bag with other items. The only hardware was a metal clasp and it had only enough exposed surfaces as was required. The construction was clean with no flaws in construction. I pictured having all the items I needed in one convenient place, rather than spread among the different pockets of my luggage. In this regard, the Fluent Stash fits the bill.
What I did not like
The shortcoming that I soon encountered is that it is very sensitive to thickness. If you put large items, say a bulky case for your IEM (internal ear monitors), it ends up being hard to fold up. Remember, Nau designed the case like an origami puzzle. As you fold each flap to the center, it gets thicker and thicker because the items were essentially stacking on each other. The designers anticipated this because the latch on top has multiple slits it’s able to fit in in, accommodating the increased thickness. Even with all my stuff I only had to resort to the second notch. Functionally this was fine but being a really picky person, I thought the aesthetic was off since a fully loaded Stash looked bulky.
How I’d improve it
I am not sure how this would work but one thing the designers could do is take into consideration the folding aspect of the Stash. If they specified a folding order, say left, right, then top, they could anticipate where the flaps would overlap and could guide how users place their goods via compartments.
Organizers are nothing new but Nau is certainly showing that there’s room for improvement. Sure, anyone could throw their stuff in a bag but being an organization freak, I am glad to have something like the Fluent Stash around. I imagine the second iteration would only improve things.
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