Review by Lucas Pantoja
What makes good design in the context of fashion? I recently found myself pondering this question in search of my own answer while absorbed in the Gary Hustwit documentary “Rams”, the first feature documentary film about the life of Braun product design legend Dieter Rams released in late 2018. Rams’ mantra had always been “Less but better”. And aside from being the superstar of Braun throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, Rams was known widely for his famous Ten Principles of Good Design.
Since watching the film I have been left perceiving design differently. One brand which I felt has encompassed Dieter Rams’ energy is luxury accessories brand Valextra. Rams’ principles were originally meant for product rather than fashion design but many of them still apply.
During Milan Fashion Week when I entered the Valextra boutique, I found myself in what seemed to be a museum with a design installation exhibiting their latest fall collection. In an ode to Milan by the brand, Valextra took a deep dive into their archive to revive their 1961 SerieS bag.
The original bag took it’s construction from traditional doctor’s bags, intricately designed to fit the paperwork and clothes of traveling businessmen. The historic bag reemerged for fall 2019 slightly altered with a change in proportion and construction, taking inspiration from Carlo Scarpa’s architecture in it’s zip pullers.
Among the newly revised SerieS we found the return of Valextra’s Iside bag, a more spacey version accompanied by a large pocket. The color palette was relatively broad and a bit pastel while the collection itself came rather limited – primary colors included: various shades of tan, celestial, frost, and navy blue, as well as marsh green and coral.
In the collection we saw Valextra stayed true to their vision of conservative and functional design, all within the consciousness of a luxury product.
Bags suited for a carrier who understands the companies long design history and maturity.
As Valextra referenced the SerieS’ design and its conception to the 60’s VW Beetle or Paulistano chair by architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha; I found their work reminiscent of a Braun Sixtant SM2 electric razor, or a 60s RT 20 Tischsuper radio.
I left the Valextra installation recalling a few of Rams’ principles etched in my brain, “Good design is honest, good design is unobtrusive, good design makes a product understandable, good design is environmentally friendly, and good design is as little design as possible.”