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Quinze & Milan x Eastpak

You think a backpack-themed sofa is an unlikely interior design combo? Well, there's already one available, thanks to a collaboration between Quinze & Milan and Eastpak

Eastpak is usually associated in our minds with solid bags and backpacks and, more recently, with a clothing range as well. The brand has now decided to expand its collaborations and explore the possibilities offered by the world of interior design with an interesting project launched with Belgian design company Quinze & Milan. Teaming up together and inspired by art, music, fashion and dynamic lifestyles, Eastpak and Quinze & Milan developed a line called Built To Resi(s)t that includes two reinterpretations of Quinze & Milan’s Club Sofa 01 and Primary Pouf 02. The sofa and pouf – presented at Milan’s furniture fair – incorporate strong and colourful fabrics and details such as practical handles and functional multiple pockets that, while calling to mind Eastpak’s trademark designs, are ideal to store books, magazines, iPod sets and - the project's Creative Director Pieterjan Mattan adds - even plants. 

Dazed Digital: Eastpak and Quinze & Milan represent two different industries: in your opinion, what do they share? 
Pieterjan Mattan: Both brands have quite a strong reputation in unconventional projects and share a similar versatility and street cult. In the past few years Eastpak worked with Rick Owens, Raf Simons, Eley Kishimoto and, more recently, Christopher Shannon and Gaspard Yurkievich. While we’re in completely different industries, this project takes place at the exact intersection where our expertises meet. We’d been touching base back and forth with Eastpak’s creative team for over a year before we worked out a more or less interesting scenario that represented the starting point for our first experiments. 

DD: Were you ever sceptical about this collaboration when you first heard about it?
Pieterjan Mattan: Sure, but at a certain point you need to let it go. We knew we were doing something that would be perceived by most people as being incredibly awkward. Yet, when we previewed the prototypes to our teams, they were bouncing off the walls with excitement!
DD: Was it difficult to incorporate the typical fabric of traditional Eastpak backpacks and bags into the sofa and pouf?
Pieterjan Mattan: Let’s say it wasn’t easy to get the covers right. Cordura is a very tough material to work with in terms of furniture upholstery. It gives you a better idea knowing that Eastpak offers a standard warranty of 30 years on its regular products - those fabrics are just extremely strong and resistant. But the material’s elasticity comes close to zero, so we had a hard time working out the technical part.

DD: Will people be able to order customised pieces that match their Eastpak bags?
Pieterjan Mattan: That would have been too much of a gimmick! But this first range is available in 6 different versions: Mono White, Black and Red, Diagonal Red, Black Squares and Monometallic Black - which is by the way very luscious! We’re currently working on a second series to be launched in a few months’ time for the A/W 2010 season.

DD: Which is your favourite one, the sofa or the pouf? Where do you keep your sofa/pouf?
Pieterjan Mattan: Hard to say, but the white Club Sofa is a real eye-catcher. I keep mine in the Q&M’s offices: it’s probably the flashiest thing you’ll ever see since we even moved the plants into the seat’s pockets!

DD: You presented a few ambitious and interesting projects at Milan’s furniture fair: which project received more attention from the visitors and how was the Salone del Mobile for you?
Pieterjan Mattan: As always, Milan proves to be an excellent hub. We get to meet lots of creative people and new faces, we see our clients, friends and press, all providing us with feedback. Our visitors had a hard time preferring one particular project on another as we were presenting various pieces for both the contract and residential market.

DD: Quinze & Milan also did some pieces for Swarovski Elements at Work: is this the first time you work with them?
Pieterjan Mattan: We had some amazing opportunities to work together on different projects before, so we’ve got close ties with the people at Swarovski since a couple of years now. The pieces we showed at the Triennale Design Museum this year were designed by Gitta Gschwendtner, a London-based designer we commissioned for the job. She’s been doing pretty impressive stuff lately.

DD: Quinze & Milan celebrated its 10th anniversary this year: in which ways has the company changed throughout the years?
Pieterjan Mattan: Quinze & Milan still stands for the same things, so the company’s DNA didn’t change that much throughout the years. We started off with the Primary Pouf, a piece in polyurethane which seemed to have undergone plastic surgery, the chunk being reduced to a neat cube, with the clear and tight lines so typical of ruling minimalism. It did away with the upholstery that normally hides the foam from the eye and was characterised by delirious and over the top colours. A decade later the brand is still into extremes.

DD: Do you have any tips and suggestions for young people who would like to start a career into product design, set up their studio and collaborate one day with different companies?
Pieterjan Mattan: Design’s constantly mutating nature turns this field into an extremely hard place to be. There’s so much already out there, lots of young people find it kind of daunting. Nevertheless it’s important to create things and have a unique approach to whatever you do, so try to be relevant and just do it, there’s nothing stopping you!

DD: Is there a company/designer you would like to collaborate with one day? 
Pieterjan Mattan: There are actually plenty of companies we would like to collaborate with one day. This is one of our major priorities: Quinze & Milan works with designers, architects and companies on a daily basis and the most intriguing part of the job doesn’t have much to do with the final products, but with the debates and interaction that spark up from the design process. 

In related Eastpak news:

Eastpak’s original UK Icon Store located at No.1 Carnaby Street is home to the “Eastpak Gallery”, open and free to the public, providing a great opportunity for talented, urban creatives to present and sell their work in a busy environment, enabling these artists to reach a much larger audience. They are pleased to announce A.CE as the next artist to step up to the plate at the “EASTPAK Gallery”. London based A.CE is a graffiti artist turned street artist who has been getting up in the streets in one way or another for over 10 years. Born in 1980, A.CE’s works often act as a remix of the various influences he has faced throughout his life, drawing richly from his time as a skateboarder, and the bold graphics and artworks he encountered during that time. Pop art and graphic design inspire the work he produces now and despite the move away from the conventional graffiti references in his work, his aim of getting up and getting noticed, through the predominant medium of stickers and paste-ups, still remains the same. A.CE will be presenting a collection entitled A.CE beats King for the “EASTPAK Gallery”, showing a new collection of canvases and work on wood and card.

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