Being a sucker for a good backpack, I was turned on when I saw the images from the collaboration between Eastpak, the venerable backpack brand, and Quinze & Milan, the Belgium-based design house. The resulting product, a backpack sofa, looks familiar and completely new all at the same time. I tracked down Pieterjan Mattan, the Creative Director on the project, and asked him a few questions (though he won't tell us what he keeps behind his zippered compartments).
How did the Quinze & Milan collaboration with Eastpak come about?
We'd actually been in touch for a while, so I felt the right potential synergy between the two brands. Both are street smart, and want to keep away from the typically structured design and fashion world, which is very defined. We started to look for a collaborative project in which our teams could put efforts into their own diversification, in a fun, and at the same time relevant, way. I really didn't want it to end up being a bore by creating a one-shot, limited-special bag range, so we decided to combine the best of both, expert-meets-expert. Surprisingly, there was nothing very close or similar on the market. Thus after experimenting, the backpack sofa was born.
Who was part of the project and what role did they play?
Lots of tremendously enthusiastic people at different companies were involved. Astrid Kowalczyk and Lionel Doyen, who were heading the development phase, worked tirelessly to make this possible. I've been fortunate to work with these very relaxed and creative people. They were a great support as we pushed things forward.
What was the biggest challenge during the design process?
Materials for sure. Have you ever tried to upholster a sofa with backpack fabrics? They're incredibly strong and will probably last forever, but simply don't stretch a bit. It took us a while to find an intelligent solution through the patterns to make it technically work.
Who decided on color and fabrication?
These are original Eastpak SS10 and FW10 fabrics. We do make a selection, but didn't change a thing. The seat covers are being made and tested literally at the same place where the bags are getting produced. I love that. Built to Resist.
Are there other brands you'd like to collaborate with?
When not forced, if they match and carry a specific lifestyle with them, why not give it a shot? I strongly believe in crossovers, because we learn from them. Never say never.
What would you store in the pockets and zippered compartments of your sofa?
There are no limits—this is a wild and carefree piece for creative minds. Love it or hate it, it takes some imagination. Others will be confused or think it's hideous. It's like giving a blank piece of paper to an artist. And to be honest, you don't want to know what's in mine.