Cult handbag label Building Block masters the art of minimalism
Kimberly and Nancy Wu, the sisters behind Building Block — the Los Angeles-based, minimalist handbag line with a cult following — are looking back at their industrial design roots for the brand’s S/S 2017 collection. Kimberly, who worked as an exterior automotive designer at Honda in Tokyo, and Nancy, who was once based in Oregon as a footwear designer for Nike, experimented with new materials and colourways for this season, applying clear PVC plastic and grey and lilac leather to their designs.
‘Building Block’s S/S 2017 collection makes reference to our shared, previous careers as industrial designers,’ say the duo. ‘The season’s monochromatic colourways such as concrete, lilac, and clear are explicitly smooth to the point of seeming simulated by 3D rendering software. This relationship between the artificiality of computer-generated imagery paired with our geometrical silhouettes reveal the purity in construction of each bag archetype.’
The solid colours in Building Block’s S/S 2017 designs were inspired by the seamless look of 3D renderings
The clear PVC fabrication adds a playful, voyeuristic element to Building Block’s designs, while the neutral grey and lilac leather provide a softer spring like approach. Finishes in rubber add a further industrial edge to the pieces, which include rubber straps, a drawstring detail that ties using a leather tassel and a rubber ball, or another which resembles a practical cable tie.
Kimberly and Nancy tapped Charlie Schuck, the Pacific Northwest-based photographer and director who founded the conceptual design space Object and curates the Frye Art Museum store, to collaborate on the imagery for S/S 2017. Their shared approach resulted in a series of images that reflect the commercial design backgrounds of the sisters, while highlighting the label’s minimal aesthetic.
Those who long for Building Block hits like the Bucket and the Rucksack need not fret, the Classic Collection continues to be available, with the reintroduction of vegetable-tanned leather and enchanting miniature versions.