Grcic, Morrison, and Martens Design Special Totes for Maharam

Maharam collaborates with three leading designers for its first independent collection of bags.

In the most rudimentary sense, a single piece of fabric folded on itself and sewed up along two edges can be called a bag, but it would be a long way from the lined, zippered, and multi-pocketed accessories we use these days to carry our life essentials. And  if the fabric is supplied by Maharam, and the bags are designed by the likes of Jasper Morrison, Konstantin Grcic, and Klaartje Martens, we’re talking totes with some serious cultural heft. Crafted in the United States, and each inspired by  the designers’ own personal requirements, these bags will soon be available online,  both through the MoMA Design Store and Maharam’s own site.

“Both these bags are a kind of puzzle: to fold the one piece of fabric, minimize the stitching,  and optimize the function. My aim was to achieve designs that were strong, but in a simple way. My father Karel [Martens, the graphic designer] visited Maharam with one of the bags on his shoulder, and from then on we called it the Karel Bag (2). With the other one, the Twin (1), the aim was to fold a single piece of canvas into a bag with more than one pocket—after folding and puzzling for a long time I ended up with three pockets.”

“The Three Bag (4) was the very first one we did. I mean, we didn’t really design it, we just made it on the sewing machine in the studio. With the Frame (5), I liked the idea of exposing the architecture of the bag: an outer structure gives it strength; the inner skin, thin like tissue, is very lightweight and soft. The Tube Bag (3), too, was conceived while making it.  The simple construction makes it a very nice, slim envelope for carrying papers and
a laptop.”

“The trickiest part of designing a bag is making it believable. It’s not easy to make a convincing-looking bag that does what it should. Michael Maharam gave me one of the Amsterdam Bags (6)almost ten years ago and I used it for about three years before attempting a more complicated version. The Scamp Bag (7) is asymmetrical, so on one face the pocket is on the outside and the other is on the inside. The zip-up top is set in an inch or so, giving you a place to put a newspaper, a boarding pass, or a book while you board a plane or a train.”

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