Touring Switzerland: Day 2
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By Aaron Britt / Published by Dwell
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The sunny weather we enjoyed yesterday has evaporated, and once-sunny Zurich is rainy and gray. After checking out of Hotel Greulich we started our busy program by heading over to Pro Helvetia, a firm dedicated to promoting Switzerland for a lecture on historical and contemporary Swiss design.

Ariana Pradal led us through the highlights of Swiss design from the Swiss Army watch to the work of recent design graduates like Cederic Decroux and Yves Fidalgo of Fulguro. As I continued to consume far too much espresso, our tour returned to Design Museum Zurich, a once controversially modern building completed in 1933 by architects Adolf Steger (1888-1939) and Karl Egender (1897-1969). The Zurich University of the Arts (above) next door was our ultimate destination, though another ramble through the museum's large, open halls was surprisingly elevating. At the University we met with teachers from the visual communication and industrial design departments to learn more about the school and, as appears to be the case with all functions in Switzerland, more coffee followed.

We had lunch in an industrial part of the city at a restaurant called GNÜSSEREI (my beef crepe was good, my neighbor's horse steak was better) decorated with old smelting machines, before maundering over to the days' main event: a tour of the Freitag factory. I've long been a fan of the fully recycled messenger bags, and seeing every step from filthy eighteen wheeler tarp to finished product was mightily impressive. Barring the actual sewing of the bags, which takes place in part in Switzerland, Portugal and Tunisia, Freitag bags are assembled in the factory and then shipped (by bicycle!) to the shop some quarter mile away. I don't want to post all my Freitag pictures just yet--I'm preparing a slideshow--but let this process shot whet your appetite.

A bag designer at Freitag uses a template to take stock of the graphic possibilities of a used truck tarp.

A bag designer at Freitag uses a template to take stock of the graphic possibilities of a used truck tarp.

The day finished with a rather dull tour of the design consultancy Nose, and after dinner some tourmates and I strolled around the Kreis 5 neighborhood and had a nightcap at a bar called Forum. I confess to getting home far too late to really catch up on my sleep, but I'm happy to report that the following day the espresso did flow. Check back tomorrow for the next update. On tomorrow's docket: two factory tours, one the rug maker Ruckstuhl and the other at textile mavens Creation Baumann.

Aaron Britt

@aaronbritt

Aaron writes the men's style column "The Pocket Square" for the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for the New York Times, the Times Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic and others.

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