The story of the iconic Freitag bag made of used truck tarpaulin began in Zurich (Switzerland) in 1993, when the two brothers and keen cyclists Daniel and Markus Freitag were looking for a practical and waterproof messenger bag. As they couldn’t find one that suited their needs, they just produced one themselves. The inspiration came from the trucks that passed by in front of their students flat. First the Freitag brothers sewed together bags made of used truck tarps, car seat belts and bicycle inner tubes just for themselves and their friends. But the uniquely designed bag became popular and even cult.
Today the Freitag brothers and their company are a both a prominent part of the urban street scene as well as a model of the (not only Swiss) creative industry. Time for the Museum of Design Zurich (Museum für Gestaltung Zürich) to have a closer look at company and their individual recycled freeway bags. The first Freitag retrospective called Freitag – Out of the Bag takes a look behind the scenes and spotlights the history, products, manufacture, organization, marketing of Freitag. Rather than just showing the bags, which can be seen in the streets of cities all over the world, the show presents material from the company archive, observations in film, prototypes, and a number of interviews.
VernissageTV met up with Daniel Freitag and the curator of the exhibition Freitag – Out of the Bag, Renate Menzi to talk about the company and the exhibition, and to follow them on a tour through the show. The above video is a video summary of the exhibition and the interviews. Daniel Freitag speaks about the secret of Freitag’s success, their design philosophy, what inspires them, how the brothers work together, the essence of a Freitag product, sustainability, different tastes across the world, future projects – and why he wears a beard. Curator Renate Menzi provides us with an introduction to the exhibition, and points to two different scenarios for the future of the company. The exhibition Freitag – Out of the Bag at Museum of Design Zurich runs until July 29, 2012.
Freitag – Out of the Bag. Retrospective at the Museum of Design Zurich (Museum für Gestaltung Zürich). Interview with Daniel Freitag and Renate Menzi (Museum of Design), Zürich / Switzerland, May 9, 2012.
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The Freitag brothers won numerous awards with their bags and their company. This is a selection of the distinctions awarded: In 1997 they won Distinction, Design Preis Schweiz; in 2003 the Top Cat model is accepted into the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA); in 2003 the Freitag brothers won Gold for the F-CUT by the Art Directors Club Switzerland in the category of Electronic Publishing; in 2007 they won the Golden Pencil for Environmental Design / Retail & Services, D&AD Global Awards; in 2009 they received the Design Prize of the Federal Republic of Germany: Gold for the F-Shop in Zurich in the Product Design category; in 2011 they won the 6th Zurich entrepreneur award for innovative, sustainable and commercially successful work.
Almost twenty years after the launch of the first product, the original bag is still the best-selling, but is complemented by additional lines and products. There are 40 models of the Freitag Fundamentals range, and 17 Freitag Reference models. The Freitag brothers expect this year’s sale to reach about 300,000 items. The company employs a staff of 130, and processes around 400 metric tons of truck tarpaulins. The Freitag products are sold through 400 sales partners, the online shop, and nine of its own F-Stores in Berlin, Cologne, Davos, Hamburg, Tokyo, and Vienna, including one across the New Museum in New York and their spectacular flagship store in Zürich, built from shipping containers.
Each Freitag bag is made from original truck tarpaulins of different colors, markings and contours, thus every Freitag product is a one-off. Another key element of the design is the green aspect, the use of second-hand material. This is also the biggest constraint on growth: Finding enough suitable tarpaulin for the products.
Photo set on Flickr: