Once upon a time there was a young graphic designer named Alessandra Botto who needed a new and more useful case for her laptop. She couldn’t find anything suitable in stores and online, so being a graphic designer she decided to give it her best effort and create a new way of transporting her computer. Having fallen into bag designing almost by accident, she is now channeling all her creative juices towards a new project: Boom Bag.
Originally from the Liguria region, Botto is bringing bags back to basics with simple yet sophisticated designs. Teaming up with Davide Filippi, who runs his own line of lasercut, wooden bowties, InLaboDesign, they are showing their creativity across Italy through trade fairs and always adding new items to the collections.
While the products speak for themselves, Alessandra and Davide are also glad to explain their philosophy.
Alexandra Augustak: Alessandra, I see a lot of bags here with your label, but what made you start?
Alessandra Botto: I actually never intended to start a bag brand. I took part in several projects as art director in Milan, but after seven years I moved to Cape Town, South Africa, for the World Design Capital event. I studied in communication and I do graphic design work, so designing handbags really only fell into place after I created a bag to fit one of my own personal needs. Too often bags are complicated, too heavy, or too big. I wanted a bag that was minimal, slim, and durable enough to carry my laptop, a bag that can easily become a backpack by wrapping the straps around the sack. From that thought came the first design for the Slim Pack. After that, the idea for a brand of bags came about and eventually turned into what is now Boom Bag.
AA: Davide, I can see that you make lasercut wooden bowties but InLaboDesign seems to be more than this. Can you describe the concept behind your brand?
Davide Filippi: Yes, you are right, InLaboDesign is not only wooden bowties. My mission is actually to build a multidisciplinary creative workshop for architects and designers who want to make products according to their own vision, going beyond the already known forms of expression. InLaboDesign is a laboratory where you can create lots of different things incorporating many materials and techniques. Making wooden bowties is just the fun part of the job!
AA: Where do you draw inspiration from when you’re designing your items?
AB: As I mentioned earlier, I like to keep things simple. For every bag, there must be a small amount of stitching with very basic lines. The material, too, is a huge aspect of every bag. I do a lot of research and I like experimenting with uncommon materials. For example, while the original bag was made out of leather, I am now trying different, innovative mediums like cork or paper textiles, drawing inspiration from nature, but always being faithful to minimalist aesthetic.
DF: My biggest inspiration comes from the mix of industrial design with fashion, craftsmanship and visual arts. I wanted my bowties to be seen as more than something you just wear once and put in a drawer, and in fact, they come as images carved into small wooden displays that you can keep on show as pieces of art. That’s why season by season I like to make new patterns ranging from classics like paisley and stripes to more graphic ones like the New York skyline. I also really like to involve emerging artists and graphic designers to make special editions, like the animal inspired ones made with the Rebigo art collective.
AA: Alessandra, if you had to picture a person who is a fan of your bags, what kind of person would they be?
AB: Boom Bag is meant for everyone, there is no specific target. However, since I started this project I’ve noticed that the elderly are big fans of my design work. This came as a surprise because I was only expecting young buyers, and the age factor turned into a challenge that helped me a lot in my designs. I aim to make a better product not only for younger customers, but older ones as well. As for who I can see wearing my designs, I’d have to say it would be someone connected to the creative field, like an artist or an important female architect. For me, celebrities are not a major market target and I am very happy to imagine ordinary people appreciating my work.
AA: Looking through your social network feeds it seems that you love Florence very much. What does the city mean to you and your brands?
AB: Coming from other regions, Florence has completely changed our perspective and inspired us to think creatively. Florence has been very kind to our young companies since we’ve won several design competitions here, including the craftsmanship fair Artigianato e Palazzo. We were selected as the “Best Upcoming Designers” by Florentines so I think our brands are strongly connected to this city. In fact, although I didn’t sell many bags at the Mostra Internazionale dell’Artigianato, they were a sell-out to people of all ages at Artigianato e Palazzo! That really meant something to me. In addition to this, Boom Bag is 100% designed and made in Italy, in particular here in the area surrounding Florence.
AA: Where do you see your brands in ten years’ time?
AB: By that time we would like our brands to be big enough to allow us to focus on the more creative part of the job. Now we have to manage everything by ourselves, from design to communication and the commercial aspects. We would really love to drive all our attention towards the design part: researching and experimenting with new materials and trying to get the best out of new challenges, together with other designers, artists and creative people that will join InLaboDesign and Boom Bag projects. That is what we love to do and what we hope the future can bring us.
About Fashion in Florence
In May-June 2017 ISI (International Studies Institute of Florence) will offer for the third time an innovative class in Fashion Communication for non-specialized students in design. Emphasis will be on analysis of leading fashion media critics, commentators, bloggers and influencers. During the last edition of the course students had the opportunity to visit Pitti Uomo fashion trade-fair and write their reports and blogs including one-on-one interviews with leading young figures in Fashion in Florence. Professor Emeritus Mark Bernheim headed the team, which included fashion commentator Alessandro Masetti.