Rimowa’s ‘Hammerschlag’ design is inspired by a Nils Frahm piano piece

Rimowa and Nils Frahm hammer down on expressive techniques to create the ‘Hammerschlag’ carry case and cabin bag

A Rimowa Hammerschlag hamered metal carry on case in a wood-lined room
Nils Frahm and Rimowa ‘Hammerschlag’ luggage
(Image credit: Courtesy, Rimowa)

Rimowa’s design philosophy is a tidy conflux of opposites: light and easy, durable and tough. So, its current association with musician Nils Frahm makes sense. For a start, those properties are easily translated as a musical instruction, leggiero (light), commodo (easy), forte (hard), while the Hamburg-born composer, producer and pianist is an all-round musical experimentalist who thrives on artistic contradictions. 

For Rimowa, meanwhile – known not only for 125 years of luggage designs but also its creative collaborations with the likes of Daniel Arsham, Palace, and Tiffany & Co – views its designs as ‘visionary tools of movement’, a philosophy you might also apply to any musical instrument, from the voice to the violin and the pianoforte.

Rimowa x Nils Frahm: ‘Hammerschlag‘ up close

Two hammered metal suitcases in a wood-lined room

The limited-edition ‘Hammerschlag’ carry case, £1,770, and cabin bag, £2,130, from rimowa.com

(Image credit: Courtesy, Rimowa)

But for the launch of its new ‘Hammerschlag’ luggage designs, namely a carry-on and a cabin case, Cologne-born maison Rimowa is specifically focusing on the connection between the texture of hammered aluminium and Frahm, in Berlin, striking the piano, during a performance of his hypnotic ‘Hammers’. Of course, the piano is a percussion instrument that relies on internal hammers to strike each string when a key is pressed, so there’s technological harmony in the mix, too.

Musicality aside, the new designs are gorgeously tactile and luxurious, and that Rimowa is reaffirming its standing as a high-craft luggage house among its myriad copyists is a welcome move. 

Ribbed polycarbonate-style designs are so ubiquitous these days as to slightly obscure the fact that Rimowa innovated the original design. So, whoever it was at brand HQ who suggested going back to its archive, and revisiting the original 1966 ‘Hammerschlag’ deserves a bonus. For there is another haute craft reflected here – the centuries-old Florentine jewellers' hammered-gold method.

Rimowa hammered metal suitcase front view

(Image credit: Courtesy, Rimowa)

Subtly hammering the metal creates a moon-like surface, the craters capturing the light so that it moves around and then refracts. Most recently, Swiss watch marque Audemars Piguet worked with Florentine jeweller Carolina Bucci to create a Royal Oak watch defined by its shimmering, hammered gold sheen. With the Rimowa ‘Hammerschlag’ designs, we see the texture in relief, like little moonstones, so that the light is pushed up, over the curves.

Open suitcase and luggae tag in cognac leather

Interior of the ‘Hammerschlag’ carry-on and new luggage tag

(Image credit: Courtesy, Rimowa)

The cognac-leather handles and luggage tag also single out the 2024 Rimowa the case’s luxuriously sleek, mid-century look. And, in case you’re planning a quick trip to Italy with your new carry-on, you might wish to broaden your local lexicon should a curious tourist wish to know more about your limited-edition ‘Hammerschlag’. The musical direction for 'with a hammering touch' is martello. How you express it, however, is entirely up to you.

Hammerschlag cabin bag, £2,130, and Carry Case, £1,770, at Rimowa stores worldwide and rimowa.com

Musician and composer Nils Frahm at the piano

(Image credit: Courtesy, Rimowa)

Caragh McKay has been a contributing editor at Wallpaper* since 2014. She was previously watches & jewellery director and is currently our resident lifestyle & shopping editor. Caragh has produced exhibitions and created and edited titles for publishers including the Daily Telegraph. She regularly chairs talks for luxury houses, Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier among them. Caragh’s current remit is cross-cultural and her recent stories include the curious tale of how Muhammad Ali met his poetic match in Robert Burns and how a Martin Scorsese film revived a forgotten Osage art.