From object design to leather bags.
Ensomono is a Belgian handbag brand which designs leather bags handmade in Spain.
The label was founded in 2012 by independent designer Fabien Franzen, as a result of his rediscovery of craftsmanship in the context of contemporary design.
What is the brand’s philosophy?
Keeping with a rather unassuming principle, Ensomono is based on the philosophy „everything is connected“. It’s represented by the circle, or enso in Japanese, found throughout the collections. After all, it is the result of the joint effort of everyone involved.
It’s not about ‘me’, it’s about the ‘we’ … which ultimately includes ‘you’, the person wearing our bags.
In fact, the monogram of E (Enso) and M (Mono) on our discreetly branded hardware plays with this ambiguous mix of stylized characters, as both words can be seen in it.
How did you come from object design to producing leather bags?
Having studied jewellery and product design, I was always fascinated by all kinds of materials and techniques. Discovering their unique characteristics and exploring the possibilities they offer, is still a substantial part of my process and an ongoing source of inspiration.
Another key element in my work is the tactile experience you have with an object, how your fingertips sense the surface, how the proportions and volume play out in your hands.
I first discovered the unique properties of leather while designing ‘Diablo’, an eyewear case with a facetted design that is covered in leather.
I quickly realized that the versatility of this material aligned perfectly with the way I work and develop a design. It allows me to translate my ideas in a more direct manner than any other material.
Designing leather bags satisfies many of the aspects that fascinate me. They are essentially a large-scale piece of jewellery, both object as well as functional.
Nowadays I develop my own prototypes and even create all the (digital) patterns myself, in preparation of the production in Ubrique, Spain, and partly in a small workshop here in Belgium.
Who is the Ensomono woman?
The Ensomono woman follows her heart and is not afraid to go her own way. While she might be ambitious and have grand plans, she enjoys the small things in life the most.
With her keen eye for detail, she appreciates true craftsmanship: things done well and with a purpose. Rather than seeking outward recognition, her confidence is affirmed by the things she discovers through her own journey. This is her definition of authenticity.
She’s equally selective in what she owns and wears. The bag she carries is no exception – to her, less is clearly more. Less, in the sense of a pure and minimal aesthetic, understated, yet elegant.
Being well aware that sticking to the essentials is truly liberating, she’ll consume less – yet more wisely – while paying close attention to ethical and sustainable factors.
Please introduce your current leather bags collection to us.
Odisea, the first collection, consists of two styles of ladies handbags: a shoulder-bag Odisea / L, and a smaller saddle-bag type model Odisea / M, which can be worn over the shoulder or cross body.
For added versatility, the looped strap of the larger model can also be transformed to a single cross-body strap, while the smaller bag comes with an exchangeable top handle for a different look.
Inspired by architectural lines and natural forms, they are faintly reminiscent of equestrian-style saddle-bags, with a pure and clean aesthetic. They both share the sculptural and structured body design, shaped by a split at the front and back of the bag.
This first collection is rendered in slate-black leather, with a dash of colour as an accented outline and interior lining, available in six editions: arctic, blush, bordeaux, champagne, cobalt, and orange.
All bags have a flat interior pocket, and the large bag comes with a separate nappa pouch in matching colour – fully lined with leather, including various side-pockets.
What does it mean for you to produce in Europe?
I personally believe that there’s a lot of value in preserving craftsmanship of any kind – it’s innately human to create and make.
Unfortunately, many crafts are at the verge of extinction, especially here in Europe I think. For many years, the tendency to maximize profits has moved most, if not all, manual labour to low-cost countries.
Not only the labour disappeared, but a lot of knowledge and experience of century honed crafts have already vanished with it.
While I would want to believe that this process is indeed reversible, I am probably more pragmatic. As a small company, there’s little we can do about this ongoing process, except for paying close attention to our own practices when it comes to ethical manufacturing and sustainable development of our brand.
The underlying theme of contemporary craftsmanship, found in all our products, is carried with a sense of pride in order to facilitate the current (re)appreciation of work being done by hand. Perhaps it is our idle hope it inspires more people to rethink what it means to produce in Europe.
On a more practical note, there’s substantial value for me as a designer to be able to work closely with local artisans. Having a direct dialogue is mandatory to move beyond the obvious and to really find the best solutions.
If you want to know more about another Belgium handbag label, click here.
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