18 August 2023
The first of its kind at APLF, L.E.D Project, is a collaborative initiative with the primary aim to connect fellow independent, talented designers with APLF Leather Exhibitors. As the very first edition of the project, APLF invited seven remarkable top Asian designer brands to collaborate with APLF’s suppliers to produce an APLF edition of their unique pieces of leather handbags, which were displayed in APLF, Dubai in March 2023.
The list of participating L.E.D. Brands featured, included: Bangkok Bootery, Marroque, Dash, La Mitra, Byo, Mynte, and Vera. The brilliance with which these designers used leather as a language to express their creative best was remarkable. These special APLF edition handbags demonstrated their strong brand identity.
APLF spoke to each of them to bring you an unedited version of their experience with the L.E.D. project. Excerpts from the interview:
Designed by Bangkok Bootery x Leather from TEAMpiel International
Bangkok Bootery is an exotic leather company founded in 1937 in Thailand. Today run by the third generation, Jiratot Tiranut, is proud to carry forward the brand’s 80 years of experience in the leather industry as a manufacturer, retailer and supplier that has made the company one of the most well-known in Thailand with more than 20 stores across the country. With confidence he claims, “All our Exotic leather products are made with genuine Exotic skins Crocodile, Python, Ostrich, Stingray, promising the highest quality of leather and handcrafting offered while creating goods such as bags, shoes, belts, jacket and a wide range of other small leather accessories.”
The products made by Bangkok Bootery are not just handmade or created from a unique processing of finest, genuine exotic skins but also, they promise to be life-lasting and may be handed down from Grandma to Granddaughter as a heritage.
“In order to design a handbag for the L.E.D. project, I envisioned the material for my design, as I like to use leather without any cuts and as a whole. However, the guiding light for me was to keep the customer in mind. What will appeal to her. Nonetheless, design and functionality are of sheer importance when curating through the design process.”
Fabio Balderesc, Founder and CEO, TEAMpiel International was grateful for the opportunity this project lent him. “We truly appreciate the opportunity to work with this brand and explore how we can collaborate together. We continuously progress, study and try to develop different ideas into a reality as envisioned by the designer and the brand. For this project in particular, the material was made with new techniques like tie-dye, cloud effect and dégradé effect. The material thus lends inspiration to the designer to create something unique and beautiful when they have such a material to play with.”
Designed by Byo x Leather from Tannerie Remy Carriat (France)
Byo is a fashion brand focused on wearable experimental objects. Spurred by their mission to offer something new to the accessory market, Tommy Ambiyo Tedji, founder and creative director explained that they take an innovative approach by combining their sci-fi-inspired futuristic aesthetic with traditional craftsmanship in the creation of their designs. “We constantly explore the boundaries of materials, shapes, and concepts while maintaining the quality level and functionality of the finished products, which now range from bags and clutches to a selection of ready-to-wear pieces. All of Byo products are designed and made in Indonesia.”
As a trained industrial designer, he established the brand with a singular purpose: to make good design available as a means of self-expression for every individual. This vision was duly realized in the realm of accessory design, where his love of bag making and experimental approach has manifested in cutting-edge and functional objects that anyone can carry and wear. His avid interest in science fiction and fantasy lends a futuristic influence to the brand’s aesthetic, giving an idiosyncratic stamp onto each of his design.
“I love handbags and I love leather. I love anything to do with craft. I had a very specific criterion when working with a tannery, and Tannerie Remy Carriat worked just right in helping me chose the leather of my liking and quality. I decide on the leather first, as I use very small pieces; which are either discarded or what others wouldn’t buy. I create from discarded leather a bag that is still desirable.”
He explained, “Since I am using undesired leather, I have no control on the colors that come to me and that’s why I have designed a system that makes these varied colors to come together harmoniously in my design. The leather inspires me to work with a modular textile. I first design the geometry and then how it would look as a luxurious or a casual bag.”
“For me leather is a material of primal timeless desire. Even though it’s been around for centuries, there is still so much to explore, to experiment and to make improvements to take it to the future.”
Designed by Vera x Leather from Baldereschi (Italy)
Bringing practicality to another level, Vilaiporn Sirinapapant – the designer of Vera created her handbag designs that adopt versatility and functionality as her two preliminary goals. With unique designs on the outside, the small size bags were packed with maximum functionality to fit as many things as possible on the inside. For the project, she was paired with Baldereschi, the Italian tannery of sustainable and high-quality embossed leather, novelties, exotics for handbags, footwear and ready to wear.
“I started the brand 8 years ago, with the intention of creating handbags that are sustainable, minimalistic yet high on functionality and craftsmanship. I usually use cow leather, but being a fortunate L.E.D. project participant, I got this unique opportunity to try sheep skin leather that’s made to look like exotic leather from this Italian tannery.
Following an unusual path this time, I chose my material before putting my creative mind to design this handbag. Seeing the choice of leather that this tannery offered, made me fall in love with the options instantly. Based on the leather, I felt inspired to create the design that best suited the material.
I believe as an artist and a designer; I must blend the function to the design as that is what will serve the end user the best. For instance, the design created for the L.E.D. Project is such that, it makes it very easy for the women to open the handbag with a single action.”
Designed by La Mitra x Leather from Megisserie Bodin Joyeux (France)
Kawalee Wu, Co-Founder and Creative Director at La Mitra believes, “Leather is sustainable because it is a by-product of the food industry. It is the most durable and versatile material, but only if it is ethically sourced and responsibly made.”
She explained, La Mitra – means ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘always giving’ in Thai. La Mitra works with indigenous women all over Thailand, to embrace and create value to their traditional know-how by blending them into their contemporary design. Sustainability, Community, Craftsmanship is our core value.
Celebrating the ancestry of indigenous culture, Kawalee Wu sets up her own leather goods brand using the cross-stitching technique she learnt from Akha hilltribe people during a volunteer. The technique has later become the brand’s very own signature feature in all leather goods.
“We started off with leather as we want to use the by-products from food industry to create beautiful products without damaging the environment. We use the local know how- like the embossed straps to create a bag, so basically blending the culture of Thailand with leather to create something new.
For the L.E.D. project I partnered with the tannery in France. I picked gold leather to bring the cultures and feel of both the countries, Dubai and Thailand together. I picked the mountain curves in Northern Thailand and sand dunes from Dubai to design my product for APLF Dubai. I usually design the product first and then select the material, but in this project, it was the other way. I collaborated with Megisserie Bodin Joyeux (France) and I picked leather gold to create this design collection.”
Designed by dash. x Leather from Megisserie Raynaud Jeune (France)
“Leather is a clean slate of possibilities for our imagination. Making travel a breeze with dash. minimal leather bags, from small crossbody and shoulder bag to messenger and large Tote, dash. leather bags have been designed to make it easier to carry and use in daily commutes,” believe the duo designers from dash., Nont Pongpairoj and Nuttida Kedjarun
Nont Pongpairoj explained, “We design our bags keeping in mind that this is your ‘personal space, on the go, simplified’. We have never worked with lamb skin before. Our designs are rigid. So, we think the contrast between the softness of the lamb skin and the rigidity in our design structure makes quite interesting play to the product to create something special and a challenge we’d like to take on for the L.E.D. project.”
He went on, “As a designer we always like to be challenged. Designing for this project was a creative challenge with new goals and as a designer we endeavor and strive towards. It’s an interesting choice of putting together both the material suppliers to the designers and the relation between these two parties is what makes creation of a product possible. It is definitely a collaborative initiative that helps put the industry forward.
“For the L.E.D. project we did not start either with the design or the material. We addressed it by pin pointing on actually what we can add in simplifying a user’s experience. We started then with the format with what we want to design – living in an era of a modern lifestyle where we are carrying less and less, we started to create compact design that’s easy to carry when on the go. Then we got the material and it is the material that actually informs as the design evolves, because we have to take into account the nature of the material. The two have to go hand in hand otherwise it doesn’t work as an overall solution. It’s an interplay for us. It’s a collaborative creative circle. For us the design thinking process is about having a clear objective, the problem that we are trying to resolve and then the design and material that sync. The bag is designed such that it intrudes into your life as little as possible – a one tap in and out of the bag secured,” Pongpairoj explained in detail.
Designed by Mynte x Leather from AP Müller (Brazil)
“Leather is a very fine, classy and stylish material,” feels designer Nichapa Jitsangboon.
Mynte, a nick name she goes by, started her brand two years ago during Covid. Having gained four years of experience while completing her management degree, she felt confident to tread into the world of fashion business. “The leather I used for the project is vegetable leather making it eco-friendly as well. The leather I used has a very specific texture. My creative process begins with designing first and then selecting the leather. Having a mat texture encouraged me to go with this leather as it was the most apt for my design.
I believe, when we take a cue from our environment, it becomes a new piece of innovation and art.
If you notice there is something in common between our Tylte and a very famous optical illusion sofa named ‘Adaptation’, designed by Fabio Novembre in 2016. The sofa became our main inspiration for ‘The Tylte’ bag. With the concept of ‘It Really Is Not Tilted Or Broken’ from Adaptation, I designed a concept that seems to be off-balance or broken at first, but is actually a clever optical illusion – our Tylte bag that owns a striking design but still practical in everyday use.”
For Mynte, practicality plays an essential part thus she aims to create a series of leather goods that are beautiful and noticeable, while being practical at the same time.
Designed by Marroque x Leather Fuga Couros S/A (Brazil)
“Leather is a natural product. Flexible and durable long-lasting. It also indicates a story created by time, experience, use and changes in textures combined with color tones, creating a classic and beautiful look,” believes
designer Nannaphat Sirasitsiri
“I used a bovine leather producing tannery to create and design a handbag for the project. I simply love leather as it is sustainable, durable and strong. It has its own texture that is classic and has a charm. I wanted a leather that has old texture, softness and apt for the design of my handbag. I chose the design first and then the leather, as I think we should do what we are good at first. When we stick with the design that we love, then we can have a try at exploring which leather is best suited for it. I wanted to design a bag that gets attention, is noticeable, as it resembles a dumpling with a young child’s hair braid for its handle, thus creating a handbag that can be loved by women of all ages.
While continuing to promote the significance of sustainability, Marroque wishes to be the brand for Thai consumers to entrust on local designers’ ability and quality.