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

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

The latest in an ongoing series of creative collaborations, Valextra’s new collection was designed Bethan Laura Wood 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. ‘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), affirming its ability mix new influences into its heritage.

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