This is a tale that started nearly a decade ago. It was driven from curiosity, the abstract, and lust. You see, back in 2012, there wasn’t this rich kaleidoscope of incredibly talented brands making boundary-pushing bags and packs. In 2012, the choices were slim. One had to cleverly and patiently dig into the far corners of the Internet. After clicking through waves of stale household and recognizable name brands, brand after brand, big name after big name, the same generic gear would appear. And back then, I was searching for something, anything, unique or with character… And then I somehow discovered Bedouin Foundry.
Bedouin was every single thing I was wishing for and more. At the time, even as a full-time designer, I didn’t know something could be this… whatever this was. There simply wasn’t anything else like it. A brand recognized in an instant. A ‘look’ you’d spot from across the street. Heck, from across a football field. Handmade in England from all of my favorite materials and all magically sourced within the borders of the EU.
AustriAlpin Cobra buckles manufactured in the Austrian alps, Halley Stevensons waxed cotton fabric from Scotland, Italian vegetable-tanned leather. Even the nylon seatbelt webbing from the UK. Simplicity matched with ruggedness. Class with grit. Storytelling. And style. Bedouin oozes with style. Like a three-piece bespoke English suit from Savile Row with seven heavy dashes of exotic worldly surrealism. Who were these British genius maniacs? Was this merely a dream? My imagination? Someone else’s?
“In the realm of the phenomenal, "less is more" only when less is the sum total of more.”
A friendship was born
In the years following, Silas Grant, owner/founder of Bedouin and I became friends. I dove into his collection, first with an olive green Barbary and then everything else. And learned about his inspirations: geometric art, pagan and occult symbolism, surrealism. We even shared texts, with the most impactful being a reading recommendation of Robert Irwin’s “The Arabian Nightmare”. An epic abstract fantasy nightmare where protagonist Balian narrates a complex tangle of dreams and imaginings. An inspiration to me (and this particular article) ever since. Little did I know that a physical manifestation Balian’s illusion would reappear years later in my life...
A dream in Hackney
Seven years later, in early 2019, Silas and I began discussing a Bedouin x Carryology collaboration project. And when both Carryology and Bedouin were turning 10 years old. A dream of mine.
While digital exchanges were made and brainstorm sessions were had over months of development, to close in on the form factor, material and hardware options, there was still much to be discussed in person. So on a rare London sunny afternoon, my girlfriend and I arrived at Bedouin HQ in East London, Hackney. Silas greeted us with hugs and two cellar-temperature beers and leant back in his chair. “Okay, shall we?”
Surrounded by geometric artwork, curious objects from around the world, and Bedouin bags hanging on the wall, we cleared a space on the wooden work table to lay out sketches and material samples.
We'd entered my happy place, where dreams and imagination become reality.
A sling like no other
Very early into the process we chose to not simply just revamp one of the existing Bedouin products. We wanted a challenge. To create something brand new. We’ve already done a few collab backpacks. They already have a deep collection of messengers… Well, we’ve been repeating it since late last year; “2019, the year of the sling”. It’s as if we all said “sling” together in unison. The choice was made. Carryology collab number 5 would be a sling, imagined and built from the ground up. Ideation, sketches, refinement, patterning, multiple prototypes, refinement, everything.
Enter the Bedouin tent
There’s no getting around it, we Carryologists love the future fabric that is Dyneema. It’s legit space age technology… that bags can be made from. Silas loved it too, as Bedouin recently offered a limited edition Delireis SE backpack from the stuff. But, using 100% Dyneema didn’t really speak “Bedouin” to us. It was too cold. We wanted the thoughtful details and fabrics. The leather, the hand-printed lining, and all those stylish supernatural touches.
Ultimately, the driving factor leaned heavily on the inspiration behind the core Bedouin collection and a philosophy based on a metaphor: Silas’s bags are Bedouin tents. Rugged and weatherproof on the exterior, able to withstand whipping winds and sandstorms, while plush and luxurious on the interior. This sling would be just that.
Dyneema x Leather
We opted for a selection of fabrics that a nomadic Bedouin turned Bladerunner might opt for in their tent’s exterior construction. Dyneema for the “outward” facing panels, for its weather resistance, unique look, and toughness. But Dyneema just didn’t feel right up against our bodies on the “inward” panels. It was too slippery and didn’t have that warmth or protection from sharp objects inside. Vegetable-tanned top-grain Italian leather was chosen, and tumbled to give it a buttery pebbled texture and grip.
Keeping the magic alive (in high-vis)
As the tent inspired us, we had to keep the iconic Bedouin custom print artwork lining. The surrealism. The magic. Heavy-duty cotton drill fabric from the UK, printed by hand under a repurposed railway arch turned into art studio, on the last 25-meter-long printmaking table in all of London. The lining has their “crank print” design by artist Zeke Wade, with a decaying geometric framework interlaced with bicycle parts and curios. This stuff turns heads and opens eyes wide, like the final step of a magic trick… folks have literally said “Wow!” upon my opening of a Bedouin bag in public, revealing the bold hidden artwork.
But it had to be signature Carryology, of course, which means bright and orange for visibility in low-light environments. So we customized the already custom and the results blew our minds. “Orange high-vis crank print”, which jumps out of the blackness of the bag’s exterior upon unzipping the YKK water-resistant zippers.
Durability and a lifetime of use are pillars that Bedouin stands by, making AustriAlpin an easy choice for us. We also chose to utilize some additional hardware bits from the Austrian engineers, which thanks to Silas’s clever construction and patterning, allow for cinching and expansion, keeping loads tight and secure.
From prototype to artisan
And as this hallucination was brought into a physical reality, it was passed on to be handmade by skilled artisans who have been sewing for decades. This workshop makes all of the Bedouin bags, and is located in the quaint countryside near Frome, England. A dream realized.
The rebirth of Balian
I’m honored and proud to announce the Bedouin x Carryology Balian Sling.
So… where is this mythical spectre? Is it merely fantasy? Well, you’ll only get these mysterious teaser shots for now. But, as a Carryology newsletter subscriber, you’ll have the very first shot at getting your hands on one. These are extremely limited in quantity and we suspect these will vanish into the muggy haze of abstraction. Good luck, fellow traveler.
This Thursday, 21st of Nov (7pm EDT New York time)!
And you guys, our readers, will have exclusive first dibs, 24hrs before the public. Please note, this collab will be an ultra-limited edition, so make sure you’re one of the lucky ones!
Mark your calendars. Get ready for the big reveal. And keep an eye on your inbox or our blog for the exclusive shop link.
NY – Nov 21st, 7pm
LA – Nov 21st, 4pm
London – Nov 22nd, Midnight
Vancouver – Nov 21st, 4pm
Sydney – Nov 22nd, 11am
Singapore – Nov 22nd, 8am
Berlin – Nov 22nd, 1am
Paris – Nov 22nd, 1am
Tokyo – Nov 22nd, 9am