Freitag is Swiss based company that recycles old tarps used on European trucks into bags. They describe their design process as ‘recontextualising’ materials. Founded by two brothers, Markus and Daniel Freitag, who were both trained in the field of Graphic Design, Freitag is a self-made company that have grown from simple beginnings into a well renowned company, selling their more than 40 different models all over the world.
The brothers first came up with the concept in 1993. They were looking for a way to transport their sketches whilst riding on a bike. They needed a bag that was completely waterproof and very durable. They saw urban bike couriers riding in the street with strong, water-repellent bags that were full of colour. Realising that this type of bag filled the brief they set to make their own.
The first Freitag bag was made from an old truck tarpaulin, used bicycle tires and seatbelts. The use of recycled materials means that no bag is the same. The tarps that are used can be up to 10 years old and it is up to the individual cutting the template to decide what colour or pattern will be used for each piece. Their Graphic Design background has little correlation to either Industrial or Fashion Design processes. However, with perseverance and a multidisciplinary approach the brothers perfected the art of bag making.
Their Graphic Design background means that although the colour, pattern and even texture of the tarpaulins is never the same they are able to select the perfect colour and pattern combinations to produce unique, aesthetically pleasing products every time. This multidisciplinary approach to design is what makes these products even more unique and successful.
When asked about the company Markus stated,
“Our father showed us how a compost heap works and how much fun it is to think and act in terms of cycles. This gave rise to the idea that in a best-case scenario, something new and useful can be created from rubbish. (Freitag 2015)
Both the brothers adamantly believe in the importance of recycling and sustainable design. Daniel highlights the importance of patience and long term thinking. He has said that “anyone who takes a serious look at the topic of sustainability quickly realises that it has nothing to do with short-term thinking. There are sensible, short-term ecological measures that can be implemented but many things must be considered from a holistic and long-term perspective.”(Freitag 2015) It is true that often we write off many environmentally friendly solutions as they do not solve the problem quick enough.
Freitag came from humble beginnings. Just two brothers wanting to create a bag that suited their needs in an environmentally friendly way. “As luck would have it, their personal need turned into a business which now employs around 150 people.” (Freitag 2015) In a society where we have the collective knowledge of the internet on our fingertips we have become impatient, oftentimes not seeing things through to see their full potential. We need to take inspiration from the Freitag brothers and look for solutions that break the norm and ‘recontextualise’ the things around us. As Daniel says, it is “essential for the environment and for society that these strategies will also take hold on a wider scale.” (Freitag 2015)
Freitag’s intentional transparency in their design process is done in an attempt to inspire others. So, if every time you needed something new you looked toward finding a sustainable solution imagine just how much waste we could reduce…
Freitag 2015, About us, Freitag, Switzerland, viewed April 16 2015, <http://www.freitag.ch/about/production>.
Freitag 2015, F13 Top Cat, Freitag, Switzerland, viewed April 16 2015, <http://www.freitag.ch/Fundamentals/Messenger-Bags/TOP-CAT/p/ZH_98869>.