You might not immediately associate the fun and lighthearted style of French leather goods house Longchamp with the minimalist rigour of Oki Sato’s nendo, but as it turns out, the two have more in common than you’d think.
This season, the two have teamed up to reimagine that most ubiquitous of luxury bags: the Longchamp Le Pliage. Since its earliest days in 1993, the supremely versatile and functional bag has been a hotcake item. In part because it simply works, and in possibly larger part because it looks good doing that at an accessible price.
The design, conceived in 1993 by house founder Philippe Cassegrain, took inspiration from Japanese origami and applied it to the bag. Its very name, Le Pliage, translates roughly to mean folding. At its core is a folding function that allows the bag to be sized down and stowed away. Nendo is, however, adding a third dimension to this.
nendo, a Tokyo-based design practice founded by Oki Sato, has made minimalism its calling card. But it isn’t the stark, cold, and Scandinavian brand of minimalism, rather nendo works with considerably a lot more warmth and humanity. The studio is known for their “!” approach, taking the unconsidered from the everyday and giving it an ingenious spin that gently but intelligently evolves the form and design.
For the Le Pliage, nendo has come up with three takes: a circle, a cube, and a cone. These shapes, as you might expect, take reference from origami and incorporate the hallmark design elements of the bag. The canvassed nylon, Russian leather trimmings, flap closure, and the snap buttons are all incorporated when shaping these new forms.
The cube uses a removable, foldable stiffener to create its structure, ending with the option of a holdall that works as well on the arm as it does on a tabletop. Indeed, the nendo approach to this collaboration considers the Le Pliage as both accessory and homeware, and the quirks of these simple shapes makes them an easy addition to decoration.
Then there is the cone, which looks endearingly like a bauble, with a single handle that can be used to hang it from a rail. Again, the interior consideration. The circle, however, is perhaps the style with the most elegant provenance: the furoshiki, a traditional Japanese method of carrying objects using wrapped and folded cloth. Sato says he found a parallel between the Le Pliage and furoshiki in the way both can “wrap anything, no matter what the shape.”
Chromatically, you can expect to find a new range of colours from this collection that the brand’s Creative Director, Sophie Delafontaine, calls “coloured neutrals”. These include: pale grey, dark blue, mustard, and burgundy; with white or black trims. It’s a nice meet-me-in-the-middle for Longchamp’s normally vibrant palette and nendo’s subdued one. Look out, also, for a limited edition lambskin variant of the cone bag, in case you wanted a more traditionally luxurious material.
The Longchamp x nendo collection will be available from 2 July 2019 at Longchamp boutiques. Prices start from SGD230 for the cube, SGD105 for the circle, and SGD230 for the cone bags.