Trolley

Thing of the Month August 2020
Trolley

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Trolley. Design: unknown, Delsey S.A.,1972. Collection Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, Berlin. Photo: Armin Herrmann, 2020.

»Down below, on the bottom of the suitcase, are a few crumbs, travel crumbs, meteor dust from foreign lands. Now the suitcase is empty.« (Kurt Tucholsky: Unpack suitcase. Glossary in the Vossische Zeitung, 1927)

The rollable hard-shell case called »Trolley« was launched in 1972 by the French luggage brand Delsey. From 1970 onwards, the company's series »Delsey Airstyle« initially offered rigid cases with metal frames, whose robust construction was intended to provide special protection for travellers' belongings. Two years later, the wheels were added to the suitcases. When the retractable handle at the top is pulled out, two small plastic wheels fold out on the opposite side. This innovation makes the suitcase easy to transport and compact to store.

At about the same time, a suitcase named »Rolling Luggage« was patented by Bernard Sadow, the manager of a US suitcase company. This model has four wheels on the long side and is pulled by an elastic band attached to the top. At the time, this handling was compared to carrying a pet on a leash and was therefore rejected by department stores. It was not until 1987 that the roller case optimised by pilot Robert Plath, called »Rollaboard«, in standardised size and with a height-adjustable telescopic rod successfully established itself.

In international usage, »trolley« from Delsey quickly established itself as the term for all cases and bags on wheels. The invention of a rollable piece of luggage was to change the way we travel to this day.

In 2020, the red wheeled suitcase entered the collection of the Werkbundarchiv - Museum der Dinge as a private donation.