In these days of austerity and fiscal responsibility, the idea of transformable products, which can literally be used for two different and distinct purposes, is a compelling one. The Hangbag brings this idea to the world of retail, with a paper shopping bag that converts into a clothes hanger, thus killing two birds with one stone.

The Hangbag is the work of three students at MIT Institute of Design, Parin Sanghvi, Mohit Singhvi, and Shruti Gupta. They came up with the Hangbag concept as part of a "Green Design" project, which deals with making products more friendly to the environment.

Shopping bags are known to be both environmentally-unfriendly and a waste of resources. Clothes hangers, too, are often viewed as a throwaway item. Which is why the idea of splicing the two together is such a promising one.

The Hangbag starts life as an ordinary looking paper shopping bag. However, a hook-shaped piece of cardboard hidden inside lists the simple instructions for turning the bag into a hanger. The process involves folding the body of the bag in on itself several times until the aforementioned hook can be used to hold it all in place.

At this point the Hangbag becomes a very usable clothes hanger, and the handles can even be used to hold scarves and ties.

The design of the Hangbag isn't yet quite perfect, with the square corners likely to mean more delicate items of clothing get bent out of shape. But that's a design problem that can likely be solved in future iterations of the concept.

The Hangbag is currently only in use on the MIT campus, but its designers are keen to see it being used by major retailers and fashion brands.

The video below shows the Hangbag in action, and some of the reasons behind its creation.

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