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James Bond, your carryall has arrived. The venerable British luggage company Globetrotter — heretofore known for its classic boxy trunks and bags — is celebrating its 110th anniversary with a brand new piece, the onehundred&ten Air Cabin, which will bow at Moss during fashion week. Sought-after industrial designer Ross Lovegrove (who designed the Sony Walkman) started developing the 1.35-kg. (just under 3-pound) piece — which will retail for $3,500 — back in January 2006. The sleek case’s secret weapon? It’s bulletproof.
WWD: How did your collaboration with Globetrotter come about?
This story first appeared in the August 11, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Ross Lovegrove: I received a very beautiful and sincere three-page letter from [them]. I was very taken by [it], and they said they were prepared to wait until I was free to undertake the program. [That’s] something rare, given the usual aggressive tactics of business.
WWD: Did you have a mandate in mind when you were hired to redesign a Globetrotter piece?
R.L.: My main goal was to create the world’s lightest rigid suitcase. Last year 4.2 billion seats were sold on aircraft. This is an astonishing statistic, and so my suitcases are more of an act of humanity than design, because the concept of lightness and reduction has immense value in such circumstances — not only for the user, but also for the planet in terms of fuel and energy savings.
WWD: You wove carbon fiber with Kevlar to make the case, since carbon fiber is lightweight but shatters on impact. Was the resulting bulletproof shell intentional or accidental?
R.L.: The case and its durability was not at all accidental. I set up objectives in the conceptual process, and one of them was durability; others were maximum lightness, an intelligent use of materials technology. [It is] molded from triaxial carbon/Kevlar composites by the Toray Corp. and Dupont in Japan. They have a molded rather than assembled aesthetic so they appear lightweight — as well as feel lightweight.
WWD: As an industrial designer, do you reference other products for inspiration?
R.L.: No, I rarely look at other companies’ or designers’ products when I begin the creative process. I find this method insincere and banal. Many designers do this, and that’s why there are so many derivative designs on the market. It’s a lazy approach that denies progress unless one is looking purely for qualification of technology or specific functional solutions to avoid market failure.
WWD: Besides being inadvertently bulletproof, this piece is quite different, aesthetically, from what Globetrotter is known for. Were you worried about how different it would look?
R.L.: The Classic GT suitcase is still made in the original way from vulcanized fiberboard. In its day, it was radical in that it was lightweight, impermeable, durable and made from fiber. My onehundred&ten might look different, but it was conceived from the same spirit of innovation [while] using state-of-the-art 21st-century material and technologies.
WWD: You were determined to make this case lightweight, but it has to fit all the things a traveler needs. Any tricks to give it more space?
R.L.: There is a version without lining, reducing the case by 400 grams (14 oz.). If the consumer is up for it he or she can use the case without [it], and put one’s recharger in one’s knickers and the laptop in one’s cashmere sweater!