This project was done in partnership with my friend Josh Siebert. I consider it an exploration of broad design concepts that I find intriguing: expandability and flexibility, material and patina, and functionality and aesthetics.
As a designer, I find great importance in considering all aspects of the materials I use when creating a product. Leather is a beautiful but polarizing material. For decades, it has primarily been sourced through companies that don’t take into account animal cruelty, harmful chemical processes, or local pollution. Fortunately, many want to change this and have started leather production companies that use only certified organically and humanely raised cows and tan their leather with non-chrome, all natural biodegradable tanning materials.
If attained through ethical sources, leather can be a renewable, biodegradable, and extremely strong material option for products. Unlike synthetic materials, leather and other natural materials age and patina gracefully. With good care, it can last generations, which can also help reduce waste.
The way veg-tan leather moves, folds, and creases is unique. I wanted to explore those qualities using large surfaces. I explored simple silhouettes that would show off the beauty of the leather while simultaneously showcasing the bag’s main feature - its massive fold-over expanding pouch.
With such a simple silhouette, this bag’s hardware would stand out quite a bit. I looked for military-spec hardware that would provide an interesting juxtaposition to such a clean, smooth material, and to highlight the bag’s intended durability. Trims like steel with black-oxide finish and AustriAlpin Cobra buckles load rated to 18 kN.
Small Fidlock fasteners hold the bag in its folded position without calling much attention to themselves. They’re also fun to use – giving just a touch of delight and modern appeal.
The fold-over design allows for everyday folded use with the option to expand to duffle style as needed. While already pretty roomy at 26 liters, it grows to 40 liters. Extra long objects can also be left protruding out of the top of the bag when needed. The expandability isn’t fully explored here, but the concept is very intriguing to me and has led to other projects where it is more refined.
The rear of the bag zips open to give access to a laptop, pencils, and papers. This configuration keeps your laptop close to your center of gravity and safe from unwanted access. Because getting into the main compartment from the front is not the most convenient at times, a zipper pass-through allows access to the main compartment from this area.