- Buyer's Guide
Design Heads :: Hubert Mean & Thanh Thrinh (Crafted Goods)
Crafted Goods have been on our radar this year, no doubt about it. So we thought it fitting to lift back the curtain and zero in on the two designers responsible for causing such a stir. Enter design heads, Hubert Mean and Thanh Thrinh, the Swiss-born, Japan-based, duo bringing their own street vibe to a brand on the rise.
Are there any key insights that guide your stuff?
(H) I can probably break it down into a few ideas:
– A good product is a classic, simple, streamlined design. ‘Classic’ meaning a long lasting investment beyond trends.
– We want our customers to value the objects they purchase, choosing carefully & creatively.
– Durable. Versatile. Reliable. Elegant. Each item is made to last.
(T) It’s all about basic high-end ‘classic’ with mobility in mind and uncompromised quality components (TW Nexus®, Cordura Ballistic, inhouse recycle innertube), plus our bags are prototyped and produced in our factory, so quality control and durability is embedded in the DNA of the brand.
What do you know that most others haven’t realized?
(H) The things “we know” are not original “per se”, it is not what we know or not know relative to our projects, it is how deep can you go in what you know. You see, no idea is truly original, it can only be “new” or qualitative by how far you are ready to go.
(T) Designing is just a lot of hard work, trial and error, enthusiasm and positive criticism! Finding the right balance in every aspect of each project and looking for new ways of making things all the time is what keeps it interesting and exciting.
What are your main channels for your creative inspiration?
(H) First of all, at a deep level, the study of our field: a respectful way of looking at techniques and materials of the past, an acute sense of detail. Simply put, a sense of design legacy! Knowing why some shapes have won over others, it is the core. This is done through real life experience. And as for a daily fix of creative inspiration: first the street and its ever changing style, looking (studying) our competitors, then the net and printed matter for design classics.
Where is your most creative space and why?
(T) The most creative space is in your head or its extension the computer, obviously or own respective creative places/office are the best, but we are traveling a lot.
Who else do you look to in the bags world? Who does rad stuff?
(H) Close to us, Porter classics and collabs, Briefing, Lexdray, and of course pretty much every brand with a solid concept and a fresh perspective even in traditional designs like Nanamica, visvim, Yuketen, Makr…the list is long.
(T) In the performance field we are a fan of all hardcore mountaineering brands, big and small.
Are there any trends or things folk do in carry that drive you nuts?
(H) Horrible fluffy “injected plastic” logos.
(T) Wack leather/suede detailing to increase price point.
What are your tools of the trade?
– Apple computers, pads etc.
– Meters and rulers, round and straight, we measure everything.
– Competitor’s bags for study.
What materials do you most like to work with?
( H) Leather and canvas.
(T) Any high-tech materials.
Are there any new materials you’re experimenting with? Anything that will break the time-space continuum?
(T) We are experimenting with laminates by Cubic Tech in Arizona. Cubic Tech specializes in the custom design and production of ultra-lightweight non-woven fabrics, known as Cuben Fiber and CTF³.
Do you have to go to the maker to make a good bag? Can carry design work remotely?
(T) Of course, to some extent some of the designs can be done remotely, but finishing has to be done in the flesh.
How do you test your product?
(T) We take them on tour! Walking, trekking, comuting, biking, motorcycling.
What do you look for when testing?
(H) It depends on the type of bags but in general quality of stitching and suture points and strap comfort, aesthetics are not relevant at this stage.
What products are you most proud of?
Do you have any favorite tips or habits for carrying better, either EDC or when traveling?
(T) Small transparent pocket Ziploc bags are awesome!
You’ve been in the game for a while now, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned about design and secondly about the carry industry?
(H) No matter how fine your concept is, no matter how confident you are it will work, when you are actually at the final stage, you see the product for the first time as it is, and it is impossible to know exactly how it will look until you reach that stage, so finishing the project is not at the end of the process, it is at the core.
What carry product (of your own creation, or anyone else’s if you feel like being generous) do you enjoy the most? What makes it enjoyable?
(H) I like paper bags from my favorite food store, I like the branding and the quality (no kidding!).
Can we see a pocket dump Thanh?
While you’ve got the camera out, would you mind taking a photo of your workspace?
Nice and minimal, ha! What bags do you run with daily?
(T) We try do go without any bags, just phone and our wallets, if we have to carry around computers and stuff, Toderito 25 L ballistic.
If you weren’t making carry products, what would you likely be doing for a profession?
(H) Hiking in Switzerland an Japan, but I don’t have the time anymore!
(T) Photography and hiking and snowboarding with my girlfriend.
What’s next for you?
(H) Lots on the pipeline, a small brand is a constant struggle for survival.