Designing handbags: From interior to handbag design
Today, I am talking to Frank Andrae about designing handbags. He is a german interior designer and former designer of men’s and women’s bags and shoes for Porsche Design, Strellson and Joop!
Frank, tell me a bit about you. What made you move from an architectural background, working in interior, to designing handbags?
It just happened by coincidence. A friend of mine, an architect, asked me to help doing a design for a building, a leather bag-company was planning.
I helped him doing the design and so met the boss of that company for the first time. He got very excited about my design and quickly asked to do bag-and shoe designs for his brands.
Although, architecture and design are different stories, the basic principles of design are almost the same. Architecture of course, is a bit more complex in the end.
Did your architectual background affect your handbag designs?
Of course, it did. First, I created bags which were very clean and graphical. Later I became more emotional and „wild“ about doing bag designs.
What is your favourite shape of a bag and which leather do you prefer?
I like bags with a coherent design, wether it is a functional shopper or a nice evening-bag with glamour. I prefer most simple, big bags in square dimensions with an „easy design“ to be used for every occaison.
My favourite leather is soft and coaxing and I do like coloured edges very much.
Where did you get your inspirations for your designs?
I find inspiration in architecture, street design and even in watching people walk along the street. Sitting in a cafe is the best way to free your mind and be creative. Or for example you visit an opera house and in a special moment, you have a new idea for a Mozart-bag or something like that.
What‘s the process of designing a handbag ?
It is not very easy to explain that, because it depends on a special feeling or idea you have in that moment of creation. And it also depends on the sort of design you are doing.
It is not difficult to do a revision of an existing design or to do experiments with colours and other sorts of leather. But if you want to do a totally new bag design, a little more is needed.
Sometimes it starts with a special idea of function, sometimes with a special idea for design. It all depends on the daily spirit. You just need to start and draw, draw, draw. It’s always a new adventure!
The most important thing about design is – like in every other discipline – the result of doing it regularly. So you get used to the design thinking process.
You also went to the production lines to overlook your designs and to get to know the crafters. How important would you think is this connection regarding a perfect result of a handbag collection?
In my opinion, it is not that important for designing handbags to know too much about the production details and circumstances. Otherwise you only think in construction details and then, the result looks „constructed“.
You should be free in your mind for the creative process.
When the design is done, there should be a product manager to explain the design to the craftsmen and to watch the transformation.
In general, it is not bad if the designer knows much about the crafting-process, but in another way, it may be an obstacle.
Frank, even if you returned to interior design last year, your passion for leather goods will always remain. Where do you see the leather industry in the future?
Well, first I am happy that I have found my way back to interior design and architecture, where I came from and where my passion lies.
Regarding the leather industry the most important point for the future will be sustainably produced leathers and bags, as well as fair trade. More and more people become aware of these issues, wanting to know where and how their bags have been produced.
And maybe totally new materials will be used for bag manufacturing in the future. It already started with rhubarb or artificially produced leather.
Beside that, in the end however it is important to offer good quality in craftmanship, material, and of course in design for designing handbags perfectly.
If you are interested in Frank‘s designs, his work as an interior designer, or even in cooperating with him, have a look at his website or contact him.