August 19, 2022 Read 4 min.

Design, sample and copy



I have been designing Harold's collections for over 20 years now.

Recently I saw in the elements SONDER EDITION NO 16 of Textilwirtschaft this backpack from Prada. The reflection of the backpack was irritating at first but at the second glance there was no doubt - it is the design of the BOX series of Harold's. Immediately I felt a little strange: had I copied the backpack? That's what it actually looked like for a moment? If so, would it have been irrelevant whether I had done it consciously or unconsciously? I thought that I would soon be facing a lawsuit. In view of the irritation, I had some trouble remembering when I had created the BOX design.



I have BOX shown for the first time at Berlin Fashion Week at Neoyt. And then immediately in two versions. That was in January 2019 at Tempelhof airport. So about three years ago. About a year before I had worked on the box design - with models, drawings and different materials often accompanied by doubts whether the design would work and whether it would have any market relevance at all. In the beginning - and this was an image I had already had in my head for several years - was that of a messenger bag with a horizontal zipper. The idea resulted from times when the messenger bag was very much in focus. I was interested in the possibility of full closure, wide opening and material economy - criteria that always struck me as shortcomings in the conventional design of messenger bags. Finally, I hoped for new proportional and formal design possibilities from the idea of the horizontally encircling zipper. But I lacked the courage to approach it more concretely. So I looked for associations. Associations with things from the real or even digital world are often a good guide in the design process. If you skillfully incorporate them without taking them too literally, they help a lot that the user intuitively understands the novel product: I was sitting in the morning train restaurant watching the waiter serve a guest the breakfast he had ordered. It consisted of coffee, two rolls, an orange juice, jam and an egg. After a first sip of coffee, the guest tapped the egg with the small spoon, then laboriously peeled off the broken shell parts. Sometimes this doesn't work well because the pieces stick too much to the cooked egg white. Instead of breaking loose, they break into even smaller pieces and then nothing works and the coffee has gone cold to boot. Opening eggs can be a discussion of principle, with exclusive attitudes that don't change at all or very rarely. Crack the egg or cut off the head - this can have the level of Beatles or Stones. Anyway, the man took the knife and cut off the head of the egg and, as could be expected, arrived at the Yellow of Egg without any further effort. He was happy. I was happy too. But not for him but for me. I now had the association with the box design. The closedness of the form on one side and the horizontal cut on about 3/4 of the total height, so that one can get to the core of the body quickly and with an overview. With the association it was now clear how the zipper had to run in detail, which image the constructive structure of the bag body had to follow. Above all, however, I realized that one gets a much better overview of what is inside the bag - a shortcoming of many bags. This also resulted in new proportional possibilities for the body of the bag. It was now possible to cut the pocket more slenderly than with conventional setups. I had thus got to the inner essence of the pocket. If this is successful, all you have to do at the end is talk to this very being, and all you have to do is listen carefully to what it has to say. In the end, the answers are then only translated into material, cut and stitching. It's a very logical process that is very clear. I think the Prada designers followed the same or similar association and therefore inevitably came to the same result of the box design and in almost all the important details: the stitching and cut, the craft details around the zipper, the choice of material, the design of the top closure of the bag. I felt vindicated and encouraged and the initial doubts about the relevance of the bag had given way, at least for a moment. For this I thank very much the designers of this Prada model. In the end, they took the design and mirrored it, resulting in a backpack with two compartments. In that respect, they took advantage of the greater slenderness of the cut. In the conventional construction of bag bodies, you would hardly find anything in it. However, the overall result defies my imagination. The duplication or repetition of the box-like body is partly reminiscent of bags designed for military purposes. But that may also be a false association. Perhaps they felt that the purist box design with a chamber was too formal, too withdrawn, and were looking for a realization that would create a greater conspicuousness in the flood of images and products. In any case, even if they already knew the original box design, they succeeded in creating an interesting "sample" in the spirit of a good DJ.
And now I come to the last point of this post: In the history of bags, countless bags have already been designed and produced. So you have to assume that almost every design and every imaginable detail solution has already been realized once. Based on this assumption, every seemingly new bag design, every new detail solution is actually (just) a "sample" of a design that has already been realized at some point, regardless of whether the author is aware of it or not. In the end, it does not matter whether a design has really been developed down to its individual details. 

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