Popular notebook brand Field Notes (opens in new tab) has recently teamed up with luxury accessory maker Bellroy (opens in new tab) to bring designers the perfect companion, The Everyday Inspiration.
Offering everything you need in one cleverly-crafted kit, The Everyday Inspiration (opens in new tab) combines Field Notes' gorgeous vintage-style memo books with Bellroy's compact custom leather cover. With vegetable tanned leather, dyed a rich charcoal colour, the collaborative effort includes space for business cards, receipts or tickets – you can even clip your favourite pen to the spine.
Armed with one of these, you'll always be ready when inspiration hits.
Designers Edition collection
The team at Bellroy have been a busy bunch recently – they've also just launched the Designers Edition collection (opens in new tab) – a range of five new products that build on the precision and quality of its existing classic styles. If you have a passion for quality product and packaging design (opens in new tab), then you'll definitely want to take a closer look.
"With our core Bellroy range, we want our products to be within reach of the everyday person, so we focus on creating value and delight in equal measure," says Bellroy's design lead Davin Hanna.
"Over many years, we'd been collecting details and special techniques that for one reason or other weren't appropriate for our core range. But we also know that our makers can produce leather goods at the very highest level, having sewn for some of the world's top luxury brands. That’s where the idea for Designers Edition came from – it’s a place where we can indulge in those details and bring them together in a collection that showcases the full skill of our makers and designers."
Beauty and the geek
Creating the new range meant finding a new balance between function and aesthetic. "Any designer working at Bellroy has a deep understanding of the phrase 'beauty and the geek'. It’s an ‘ingredients list’ for our products, to achieve the balance between geek (function) and beauty (aesthetic), which is critical," Hanna says.
"The challenge for Designers Edition was in the shift of audience, towards the purist end of the scale. I had to reign in the ‘geek’ on this range in order for the beauty to lift and shine. It was a process of reduction and minimalism. The geek found its form ‘under the hood’, in the construction of each piece."
Here, Hanna reveal his process and some top tips for creating beautiful hand-crafted products...
Follow a format
"My design process follows a common format, but the ignition or starting point varies greatly," he says. "This might be a broad need, a moment or a situation. Some are far more specific – hinging on a gesture, function or specific detail that the product or range will be built around.
"When designing our single card case, we built the whole design around a downward thumb gesture to reveal the card at the base of the phone. This gesture felt so clear and effortless we knew the design process to follow was about supporting that moment, emphasising its simplicity, rather than needing the design to take centre stage. The more recent Designers Edition range was built around some higher level goals – a list of formats, functions and needs. The project then needed the materials and design work to deliver those goals."
Deliver the idea
"In delivering an idea, I’ve always been good at breaking down the vision I have of an item’s finished state into its parts – function, detail, material and finish," Hanna comments. "These components are like the DNA or soul of the product. And it’s the material realisation of this that defines the beauty and success of the finished piece.
"This is where the process is critical. For me, it begins with a conceptual phase (mostly sketches and mood boards) that continue until tangible ideas are formed. I narrow and group the most compelling ideas into a couple of focused directions and bring them into physical forms – I believe this is where the real learning begins. Everything prior to this is theoretical, so getting textiles or leather samples and a 3D print or paper patterns in hand to test ideas is crucial.
At Bellroy, we refer to this as the ‘experience’ – moving from a sketch to a build process that feels more refined and intricately formed, and then to supplier samples and a finished product in the hands of the end user. All good design starts with an understanding of the materials and processes that you're working with.
A hands-on approach
"Being hands-on from an early stage of the process will help you understand the process, and lead to deeper insights along the way," says Hanna. "That being said, fresh eyes and experience in other fields often bring unique ways of thinking to a traditional leather goods world.
"Most of the great inspirations I have are from other fields – as broad as furniture, fashion and even architecture, where the idea is so clear. The challenge is bringing it to the specific product I’m working on. The process itself is then less about the leather world and more a hybrid of product design and soft goods design."
You can see the full Bellroy Designers Edition here (opens in new tab).
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