Take a trip through nostalgic travel photography with Rimowa

The Cologne-based suitcase expert has released a Rizzoli-published monograph of its archival designs

Rimowa Suitcase Collection
Catalogue image introducing the Rimowa Holiday collection, ‘der Reisekoffer für junge Leute’ (1988-1989)
(Image credit: Rimowa)

There’s a host of ritualistic activities that signify a holiday has begun: bidding farewell to your check-in bag at the departures desk, the first sip of something bubbly in an airport lounge, or the exhilarating feeling of an aeroplane first lifting into the sky. For the design obsessives among us, out-of-office begins when the internal Flexi Dividers of a Rimowa suitcase are filled and the locks of its grooved aluminium outer shell are gently clinked together. We fully condone a monomania for something so expertly made, with a whole cargo cabin worth of design history, especially when it's accompanying you to adventures abroad.

We imagine your suitcase has gathered a little dust this year, but in lieu of physical travel, Rimowa has the at-home escapist answer. It’s latest Rizzoli-published monograph Rimowa: An Archive, Since 1898, provides a decades-and-destination spanning history of the brand – which was first founded in Cologne in 1898, and introduced its signature aluminium suitcase in 1937, after the metal was the only material that survived a blaze at the brand's factory. The volume also features a foreward by Wallpaper* founder and Monocle editor-in-chief Tyler Brûlé.

Rimowa aluminium suitcases

Topas collection, (1999)

(Image credit: Rimowa)

‘It is one possible arrangement from the entire collection, carefully chosen with the intent of sharing a clear, albeit inevitably incomplete, narrative,’ states the books introduction, regarding the archive wonders enclosed in its pages. The volume is chaptered according to the materials which Rimowa’s travel items have been designed in, moving from its earliest leather and wood and steel iterations, into its more contemporary aluminium and polycarbonate creations.

The range of archival designs on display include a bass transport case from the 1960s, to a radio case from 1979, a bar cart case from the 1990s, to a custom case for model airplanes from 2002. Other eye-catching inclusions include the recent host of collaborative designs with artists and brands masterminded by Alexandre Arnault – who was appointed CEO in 2017 when LVMH acquired a majority stake in the brand. These include Off–White's clear polycarbonate suitcase, Dior's Oblique logo emblazoned hand case and Alex Israel's LA skyline-inspired cabin case in hazy blue and pink anodised aluminium.

A Rimowa design draws coveted stares from regular suitcase wheelers in global departure lounges. From your coffee table, Rimowa: An Archive, Since 1898, will incur equally envious eyelines.

1980s Rimowa advertising detail

Rimowa advertising detail (1980s)

(Image credit: Rimowa)

Dents in Rimowa suitcases

Manufactured indents meant to resemble crocodile teeth marks on the Rimowa Salsa Crocodile case (2012)

(Image credit: Rimowa)

Calypso radio case

Calypso radio case, by Rimowa (1979)

(Image credit: Rimowa)

Rimowa Savannah roller suitcase

Editorial photograph of the Rimowa Savannah no.956 roller suitcase (1990)

(Image credit: Rimowa)

Rimowa cabin trunk with canvas covering

Cabin trunk with canvas covering (1970s), by Rimowa

(Image credit: Rimowa)