Valextra’s latest design collaboration is more than just a pipe dream

A new installation in Valextra’s Milan boutique
An new installation in Valextra’s Milan boutique is inspired by the work of artist Eduardo Paolozzi
(Image credit: press)

The latest in an ongoing series of creative collaborations, Valextra’s new collection was designed Bethan Laura Wood (opens in new tab) who brought her special brand of whimsy to the rigorous leather bags. Titled ‘Toothpaste’, the collection is, as Wood puts it, is ‘somewhere between Neapolitan ice cream and your father’s 1970s ties, with a bit of mint toothpaste’.

The British designer looked at the work of artist Eduardo Paolozzi’s during her research, but also drew from a wider pool of inspiration, from the curved typography of M/M Paris to the logo from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The collection was also a continuation of research that first began with her interconnecting ‘Playtime’ tables in 2010, a graphic furniture design that has become one of her signatures.

The Valextra collection features new interpretations on two of the brand’s classics: the Iside, a rigid-handle handbag, and the Passpartout, a spacious and multifunctional day bag and the latest addition to the brand’s family. Wood created new handles and clasps for the former, and accessories for the latter’s front pocket. The palette, a mix of murky 1970s tones and pop jewel hues, is complemented by Wood’s colorful accessories, in a mix of pastels and candy colours. 

Her design is characterised by a modular ‘wiggle’ motif inspired by Valextra’s own signature Costa treatment, a black painted edge punctuating the bags. ‘I really like the products’ detailing,’ explains Wood. ‘Valextra’s world is clean, graphic and minimal. I wanted to see where my world could collide with them.’ Wood engineered seven handle designs, four clasps and three pocket accessories, creating possibilities galore for the bags’ different identities.

Valextra has previously worked with designers such as Martino Gamper on a collection of bags and an pop-up installation, and Philippe Malouin on the brand’s London flagship boutique (opens in new tab). ‘What they do is really brave,’ says Wood. ‘Their collaborations look completely different, they work with such different people and they are not afraid of conceptual interpretations.’

Wood’s collection is available from the brand’s Milan boutique, presented in a site-specific installation inspired by Paolozzi’s visual universe. It’s yet another reinvention for the 80-year-old company (the anniversary celebrations this year have included a collaboration with Snarkitecture (opens in new tab)), affirming its ability mix new influences into its heritage.

The installation marks the launch of the Italian label’s ‘Toothpaste’ collection, designed by Bethan Laura Wood

The installation marks the launch of the Italian label’s ‘Toothpaste’ collection, designed by Bethan Laura Wood

(Image credit: press)

The designer also created different accessories for the Passpartout pockets

The designer also created different accessories for the Passpartout pockets

(Image credit: press)

Left : A modular wiggle design with several layers

Left, one of the designer’s most complex handles comprises a modular wiggle design with several layers. Right, Wood’s references included this interlocking tube artwork

(Image credit: press)

The piping of a Mexican industrial plant was among Wood‘s inspirations

The piping of a Mexican industrial plant was among Wood‘s inspirations

(Image credit: press)

Installation view at the Valextra boutique in Milan

Installation view at the Valextra boutique in Milan

(Image credit: press)

The mood board and a series of prototypes for the handles, clasps and front pocket designs in Wood’s London studio

The mood board and a series of prototypes for the handles, clasps and front pocket designs in Wood’s London studio

(Image credit: press)

An early paper model of Wood’s wiggle motif

(Image credit: press)

INFORMATION
For more information, visit the Valextra website (opens in new tab)

ADDRESS

Valextra
Via Alessandro Manzoni 3
20121 Milan

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Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.