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Method-Studio---Ecco-Leather-Trunk

The Little-known World of Modern Bespoke Trunks and Cases

by , December 20, 2018

In long-gone eras, when the joys of leisure travel were reserved only for the upper class and the aristocracy, a wonderful travel category was born: the bespoke travel trunk. Luxury pieces handcrafted by only the very best gentry-approved artisans to not only carry your silks, jewels and garb from country to country but, more importantly, to show off your class, sophistication and personal brand. These were timeless pieces of pure romance and utility. But modern takes on this classic form are hard to come by. That is, unless like us, you’ve stumbled across Method Studio, UK. A small husband-and-wife team breathing new life into bespoke trunks and cases, with a class and modern take appealing to some of the world’s premier brands…

So we asked co-founder and maker, Callum Robinson to detail his greatest projects, so we can all geek out on his incredible level of craftsmanship and get a glimpse inside the little-known world of modern bespoke trunks…

Method Studio


Factory Petit was painstakingly hand-built for the world’s most progressive tannery – Ecco Leather – to de-mystify their incredible artisan craft production processes and attitudes – by bringing them out into the world.

But this is no prop. 

Requiring over 4000 hours and 1200 metres of solid ash to bring to life, the series pushes the boundaries of traditional hardwood construction and draws on a wide range of long-dead details and problem-solving solutions to create a series of trunks which are agile and luxurious – but remain unequivocally industrial. 

Method Studio

A truly nomadic factory

Internally the series houses a complete collection of heavy-duty industrial machinery (cunningly concealed cast iron stitching machines, state-of-the-art multi-speed polishing machines etc.) but the modular design and customised castor system allow each trunk to be moved, combined and set up by virtually anyone. Anywhere. 

Method Studio

We worked closely with Ecco Leather’s skilled team – the most dedicated and imaginative leather designers in the world – attending their renowned 3-day Hotshop leather laboratory event in the Netherlands on two occasions, collaborating at the Bread and Butter fashion event and Tempelhof in Berlin and repeatedly welcoming their team to our studio in Scotland – to fully understand their unique needs, and to integrate these into what was always planned as a very user-friendly and practical tool.

The series has now been used – in various incredible setups – as far afield as Dubai, Japan and Australia, itself travelling in bespoke style in a custom-fitted shipping container, designed and tailored by our team.

Materials: Ash, organic leather, brass, steel, HDPE, perspex & acrylic

Method Studio


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Bentley’s bespoke coach-building arm, Mulliner, produce unique personalised iterations of the brand’s incredible cars. To showcase just some of the custom options available to clients we created two remarkable pieces of one-of-a-kind touring luggage: A dramatically-scaled trunk with nesting steel doors (engraved with their signature diamond quilting pattern) and a slim, elegant attache case. 
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Both pieces are wrapped in Bentley’s own bull leather, and detailed in a startling bright orange (also bull leather) and custom-made black nickel steel hardware.
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Materials: birch, black nickel steel, bull leather, aluminium
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.Campaign Watch Case: Robinson Edition

Designed in homage to the classic steamer trunks and portmanteaus of the Grand Tour era, our campaign watch case Robinson edition (my family name) was a true labour of love, initially developed as a hidden detail on a watch chest for a $1M Vacheron Constantin one-of-a-kind.

Method Studio

For us owning a special timepiece is all about celebrating and revelling in the ritual; the winding, the cleaning, the admiring…it’s about personal experience. We wanted to bring the opening of the travel case and the reveal into that arena too.

Method Studio

Also, most watch travel cases and boxes are chintzy, ostentatious and glossy. We don’t like glossy.

Bridle leather straps, solid brass saddlery closures, a hardwood wrist-last to the dimensions of the client, personal embossing, unique hides for internal and externals. Authentic, tactile detailing.

Method Studio

Over the years we’ve created these cases in some truly remarkable combinations. With custom wabi-sabi leathers, scorched timber, gold-plated hardware…to name just a few. We’ve even developed custom versions in ultra-limited numbers for some of the UK’s finest bespoke watchmakers (including a double-wide edition for the unique-looking, world’s first atomic powered watch, from Hoptroff).

Materials: various leathers, suedes, woods and metals

Method Studio


Method X Johnnie Walker: Master Blender’s Trunks

A single oak tree from the highlands of Scotland.

Over 600 hours.

Over 1000 custom components.

In one of the most challenging and labour-intensive commissions we have ever undertaken, and working closely with Johnnie Walker’s legendary master blender Dr Jim Beveridge, the studio developed and designed a very special series of tailor-made travelling trunks; housing all of the instruments, rare liquids and glassware he requires to create the legendary John Walker & Sons™ signature blend, anywhere in the world.

Method Studio

The Master Blender’s trunks were crafted from a single oak tree, sourced from a very special secret location, on the banks of the river Spey, on the Kinrara Estate near Aviemore in the highlands of Scotland, and were very much designed to add magic, theatre, ritual and drama to the very technical and scientific blending process.

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This emphasis on place, provenance and the importance of water is no accident. These ingredients are as fundamental to the art of whisky blending as they are to fine cabinetmaking.

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Each of the three trunks, which – when combined – form the Master Blender’s Trunk, are detailed in beautiful Tokyo-tan organic leather, solid brass, glittering gold leaf and thick bridle leather.

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The trunks are an invaluable tool in the remarkable bespoke whisky blending process – undertaken with only a very lucky chosen few – by Dr Beveridge.

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Truly a humbling project, and one which again combines some of our favourite things; whisky, wood…and the dramatic reveal.

Materials: Scottish oak, brass, bridle leather & gold leaf

Method Studio

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Casks of Distinction: Rare Whisky Tasting Trunk

Designed and meticulously handcrafted to augment one of the most prestigious and rare whisky experiences in the world – the tasting and selecting of ultra rare casks of single malt whisky.

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Developed after painstaking research into the ritual and individual process of guest interaction, the Casks of Distinction trunk was designed to add drama and mystery to the tasting and selection process of some of the world’s most unique liquids.

Method Studio

Each trunk was handcrafted at our workshop in Scotland from birch and oiled, local oak, before being traditionally wrapped in sumptuous full grain and bridle leathers. Detailing is in custom-made, gold-plated solid brass and superfine goat suede.

Materials: Scottish oak, Scottish burgundy leather, bridle leather, gold-plated solid brass, superfine goat suede & silk

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Casks of Distinction: Attache

The second piece we designed and created for the prestigious Casks of Distinction programme was very much inspired by traditional British suitcase design, and the work of one of our favourite heritage brands: Globe-Trotter.

Method Studio

Ninety five percent of the components and contents were designed and custom made specifically for the project, including the precision engineered solid brass corner protectors (of which I am particularly fond). The piece houses hand-cut Cumbria crystal decanters and tumblers and allows the user to picnic in rather inimitable style.

Designed and meticulously handcrafted to augment one of the most prestigious and rare whisky experiences in the world – the tasting and selecting of ultra rare casks of single malt whisky.

Materials: Scottish oak, full-grain leather, hand-cut bridle leather, custom-engineered brass hardware & handmade full-lead crystal

Method Studio


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Working closely with the design team at cult Amsterdam-based fashion label DENHAM, we created our own modern interpretation of the classic portmanteau steamer trunk. A trunk built from the finest natural materials – which, like the best selvedge denim, would age and develop a unique patina over time.
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Drawing inspiration from birch-bark canoes and bi-plane wing construction, the lightweight, birch-skinned trunk contained over 600 meticulously interlocked components, all individually handcrafted from American white ash.

The piece was customised and detailed to evoke the symbolic journey of their very own Journeyman Jeanmaker – founder of Denham, Jason Denham – and featured a drop-down work surface, flexible tool straps, garment hanging space and a column of swivelling solid ash accessory carousels.

Method Studio

Using traditional woodworking joints, an elegant framework of solid ash (chosen for its flexibility and durability – it was traditionally used to make longbows and skis) was created. This lightweight skeleton was skinned with 1.5mm thick birch before being knitted together with a series of black-japanned steel engineering fixings.

Hand-stitched leather edging was added to protect the four outward edges – the only parts allowed to touch the ground due to the trunk’s unique inwardly curving form.

Method Studio

Thick leather handles, a protective flysheet of the finest Japanese selvedge denim, contrasting industrial hardware and stunning relief hand-carving from David Robinson (my father) further individualise the trunk; encapsulating Denham’s fundamental belief that: The truth is in the details.

Materials: Ash, birch, steel, iron, copper & selvedge denim

Method Studio


Loch Lomond Whisky – 50-year-old whisky

Acting as creative directors, designers and makers on the release of Loch Lomond’s oldest whisky to date: a 50-year-old single malt produced in the early months of the distillery’s history (1967) forced us to delve deeply into the wonderful world of rare malt whisky (it’s a tough job sometimes).
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The distillery, on the banks of Loch Lomond, is one of Scotland’s best kept secrets, and is highly progressive and fiercely independent. Combine this with their ‘Never follow‘ ethos and a really special liquid, and you have a fascinating brief. 

Loch Lomond opened their doors and welcomed us in from the very beginning of the process, allowing us full access and exhaustive tasting sessions. This time spent on site with their passionate team, understanding the processes, people and heritage of the place, really allowed us to get under the skin of the project and create something special. Something fitting.

There are precious few distilleries named after a body of water as opposed to a place, so we also drew inspiration from the power of Scotland’s most romantic, dramatic and historic loch. 

The feeling you get when you see moonlight dancing on the water – that chill down your spine – that is what we were trying to evoke.

Each chest was individually sculpted at our workshop from solid oak, to appear to be a three-dimensional manifestation of tempestuous water at twilight. This method of randomised shaping means that depending on the maker (and his mood) on that particular day, the form and ripple of the waves is one-of-a-kind.

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The surface is indigo-dyed until almost black, heavily waxed and brushed until smooth and silky, and lined in deboss-detailed tan leather and polished brass.

When it came to creating a miniature of the 50 Year Old (to taste) to secrete within the chest, we didn’t want to follow with an ordinary bottle. So hidden (in plain sight) within the chest is a solid turned brass vial, reminiscent of and paying homage to the unique straight neck ‘Lomond Stills’. The vial is highly polished and lined in glass.

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Limited to 60 decanters worldwide.

Materials: Oak, leather, brass & glass

Method Studio


Method for Jaguar Land Rover: Craftsmanship Trunk Series

Initially unveiled as part of Jaguar Land Rover’s luxurious craftsmanship and VIP area at the 2013 Paris Motor Show, this handcrafted trunk series was then toured extensively internationally.

Method Studio

Jaguar Land Rover is a British institution, an iconic brand we deeply respect. So this project called for a considered combination of industrial no-nonsense engineering and elegant, finely crafted and imaginative – mixed of course with true luxury and genuine Land Rover character. 

Externally the lightweight handmade birch trunks were clad in specially tooled, semi-perforated Scottish leather (the same stuff you’ll find under your back pockets in Aston Martin supercars). Each was detailed with custom-engineered aluminium hardware, made in-house, bespoke edge protection and hand-stitched anthracite bridle leather straps.

Method Studio

Internally the trunks included versatile light-box elements, extensive LED ‘halo’ lighting, leather-bound presentation books, full sample ranges for all JLR vehicles and a fully integrated audio visual setup.

Materials: Birch, tooled Scottish leather, aluminium, perspex, bridle leather & steel

Method Studio


Hardcase (Unequivocal iPad Protection)

The Hardcase was one of the first pieces the studio ever created; designed to house an iPad in the most dramatic and stylish way possible, and to bring some of the luxurious and tactile materials I had grown up working with in furniture to the world of luggage (something we’re both somewhat unhealthily obsessed with).

Method Studio

We travelled with one of these for years and were always delighted by the response from airport security (and those guys have seen it all)!

Method Studio

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To achieve the unique finish we soaked iron nails in vinegar, creating a traditional solution which ebonised the American black walnut (also shown in Scottish elm) without obscuring the delicate grain feature. This we combined with blackened engineering fittings, a bridle leather strap, solid brass saddlery fittings (something we would continue to use throughout our work for years to come) and a grey wool lining, to protect the screen.

Materials: Ebonised American black walnut, Scottish elm, bridle leather, wool, steel, brass

Method Studio

All of the other images are courtesy of Graeme Hunter Pictures and Method Studio.

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