It doesn’t matter how corny this sounds, but it is true, the little things matter the most, whether it’s decorating the house or designing the looks of a bag.’
It is about time to feature an amazing artist, true inspiration and young lady here today. She makes leather bags, not just leather bags but real practical ones for the bags and ‘bike lovers’ and they look amazing as well!
I’m talking about Imke de Jong. I asked her a few question to see what drives her as a designer and to give my readers some inside information about this young designer.
Imke, 28, born in Gemert and graduated at the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2010 from the Man & Communication department. She designed an educational book made out of felt about the human body. Next to that she made a table that should put focus on raising awareness on the online/offline world. No leather bags yet at that time. Kind of nice she says ‘it gives me more options’. She soon decided to move to Rotterdam to start working at ‘Doortje’ vintage shop and The Boyscouts.
Her passions lay within the small things in live, perfectionalizing her bags and also spend time with friends of course. Her surrounding stimulates her and helps to work on it passionately, whether it’s creating a bag or for example DIY’ing. This pleasant obsession of details is important to her, like she says ‘how corny it sounds, the little things are the things that matter the most, whether it’s decorating the house or designing the looks of a bag’.
What’s your Trademark?
That would be my bags, they’re all created by my own urge. I mean, it would be weird not to use my own bags right? In my bag, preferably a rucksack, I always carry a moleskine etui, phone, earplugs for music and a little tin of lip balm.
So you graduated, what happened after?
After graduating there was a time of reflection, and think about what to do next. With some leftover leather from my graduation project I sewed a simple bag together. Slowly my interest started to grow and like an autodidact I kind of carried on designing and making bags and rucksacks. And it still is the most favourite thing for me to do.
Next to that I also started to design bags for the accessories and jewellery brand ‘The Boyscouts’ also located in Rotterdam. I’m head of production for the brand. So that’s like my permanent thing 3 days a week. It’s an incredibly interesting job, being able to see and learn in the ‘kitchen of a growing brand’.
So the rucksack, did it came from some sort of personal urge as well?
I think the origin, functionality, shape en proportion always comes from some sort of urge or taste. A rucksack is the best example to illustrate this. Pure functionality, but because of the details, an object that is pleasant to look at. Designing and making those things I just love doing most.
How do you choose your materials?
They’re also chosen by functionality. Leather has the quality that it’s waterproof and strong. The leather I use, has an extra feature, it changes color by time, use and influences from daily use.. This way, as consumer, you have influence on the looks of the bag. I also use canvas, a fabric that’s super strong and waterproof as well. This fabric has the advantage that it does not fray, just like leather.
Do you sew everything yourself?
Everything I come up with, I make myself. In my head, I make a plan.. which flap has to go first, when do I have to put in the zipper.. etc. After that I start cutting the material, a hard job I can tell! and that done, I start processing and sewing.
Leather can only be sewed once, starting over is no option, you’ll see the sewing holes so that makes it quite exciting.
The nice thing about designing my bags is that I can all realize this myself. Whatever I come up with or design, I can make. I do not need any external parties to put my bags together, “relaxed” I like that about my work.
You also made some really nice ‘chain lock bags’ for bikes. Was this some sort of problem you walked into and kind of solved?
Well, not specifically a problem. I noticed that during my study I learned to find solutions for daily things. Your lock damages you bike when you twist it around your seat-post. A solution could be to just put the lock in your bag. Now I found a solution to use a ‘free’ space of a bike to hang a bag and store the chain in. This way you won’t damage the bike and with some extra features you can also store you mobile phone, and that’s what makes it a function design.
My bike is important to me, so I try not to damage it whenever I can. It’s obvious that people around me are having the same problems and I’m glad to be able to give them a solution.
So you lived in Eindhoven while studying, why did you decide to move to Rotterdam?
After seven years of Eindhoven I had a strong urge to broaden my horizons. As a designer and creator of things, it’s a good thing to regularly sharpen up your thinking. Change of surroundings and habitat does those things to me. You kind of need to prove yourself, think of what you want and shoe you are. Moving to Rotterdam has certainly put me to work in a positive way. “Allright, here we go, I’ll show you what I’m capable of ” kind of like that.
Will you carry on design bags for ever or do you have ideas for other sorts of projects?
That’s a hard question. I guess I’ll always keep on designing bags, if not professional than for myself and friends. It would be fun to see more and more people carrying your bags and appreciate them. Putting the focus only on the bags, isn’t really necessary either, as long as it’s fun, i’ll keep on making them. If it keeps on growing, i’ll go with the flow of that growth. If it stays like what it is right now.. I’m totally satisfied as well!
Another goal for the future is to research in more crafts en maybe specialize in some of these crafts. I’d like to teach as well, support others and maybe be able to teach them something.
Image courtesy by Imke de Jong