Form over fashion: Philipp Bree's minimalist PB 0110 bags are designed to look better with time
Philipp Bree was born in Hanover, where he still lives and works today, and grew up surrounded by the designs of his parent's handbag line. 'It had a very big influence on me. We were children that grew up in a start-up company. And of course we had to wear Bree bags if we wanted or not,' he jokes.
Attempting to sidestep the family business - 'I was fed up with all those bags and design around the house' - he left to undertake an applied Economics degree in Hameln culminating in a thesis on product development which was written in cooperation with a German office furniture company called Wilkhahn. 'Back then they put a lot of emphasise on design, social and ecological responsibility. That inspired and influenced me. Since then creation and development has always been a part of my job.'
It's a philosophy he has carried through to his bag line, PB 0110 (a compound of his initials, birthday and the date the company was formed on 1 October, 2012) of sleek totes, briefcases and portfolios with a unisex feel, where form is clearly considered but never overrides function. If you're looking for a bejewelled minaudiere, then you're in the wrong place.
'I believe in the significance of beloved objects,' says Bree, who curates the site belovedobjects.de as a side project. 'For me, those are things that develop their individuality through daily use and time.' He selects only natural leathers and linens, letting their patina emerge with time and wear. 'I've travelled over 12 months throughout Europe and selected materials from manufacturers embodying rich traditions. We only use vegetable tanned leather from Belgium, pure brass fittings and 100 percent linen both from Tuscany. We just work with these essential materials.'
Unlike many designers who begin their journey with a quest to fill a gap in the market, Bree thinks, 'the market is over-crowded, but I believe how we are creating, developing, producing and communicating our products is in a direction worth observing. Before I started the project, I looked into completely different practices, such as food. People are increasingly interested in where our food is coming from, how many miles it has travelled to the table, how it has been produced and so on. I think that the 'how' is getting more important.'
At the collection's core is a line of functional carry-over styles in soft pastel shades and optic monochrome with seasonal updates. 'The good styles stay as long as they are wanted,' says Bree, noting that developments are guided by consumer demand. 'I don't want to get into the fashion rhythm. We are trying out new colours and little surprises to keep the collection interesting for the customer,' calling out the AB1 square shopper and CA6 minimal backpack as popular styles.
He invited three different designers - whose modern and timeless work is in line with his own - to work on the line. 'Ayzit Bostan, a fashion designer and artist from Munich Germany; Christine Ahrens, a bag and shoe designer from London who has been designing for far bigger houses; and Christian Metzner, a product designer from Berlin. It is a wonderful process,' he enthuses. 'I am always inspired when the designer takes the initial idea further. The only requirements are that everybody has to use the same materials and that we need to have only one colour concept.' To keep the refined design feeling innovative, Bree will continue to invite various designers to work on the collection.