When Louis Vuitton decided the time had come to inject some newness into their range of travel accouterments, read: luggage, they tapped a designer who oozed new from his name.
Enter: Marc Newson CBE
The Australian-born industrial designer has dabbled in everything from aircraft design to the Apple Watch, always leaving behind his clever mark, if you will. In this case nothing has changed; he continues to drive brands forward in a way that’s all together Newson without ever sacrificing the name on the label. When one thinks of Louis Vuitton luggage, a certain visual comes to mind. For many, the collectables are picked up over time adding a layer of means to the impression they leave behind with each acquisition. But functionality was probably not amongst the synonyms one would most readily use to describe a piece of Vuitton travel gear. This collaboration was about a well-rounded approach to luggage design; it was just about designing “a great piece of luggage,” says Newson.
The collection, dubbed Horizon and meant to target the 21st century traveler is centered on a new range of rolling trunks that will be sold globally and that promise to remain a part of permanent collection. This is quite a bit different from Newson’s last venture with Vuitton in 2014 as part of the Celebrating Monogram project where different designers took a turn interpreting the brand’s storied Monogram in their own unique way. Karl Lagerfeld, for example, created a tote that resembled a punching bag. Newson comments on some of the stark differences including commercial imperatives; where the last go-round was a limited run, creative experiment, this, he says, is “almost completely a process of engineering, rather than design.”
A closer look reveals that there are actually some serious, groundbreaking developments in terms of weight, engineering and technology. Of course, the brand recognizability would never be diminished; one must, as he puts it, “see this thing on the other side of a room, or indeed on the other side of an airport and recognize it as a Vuitton product.” So how is it new? The piece implements “a new type of self-reinforced polypropylene composite, essentially representing the structure of the trunk, molded in a mesh matrix of several layers.” What does this mean for laymen? It’s thin, it’s ultra light and it’s shock absorbent—even Louis Vuitton’s monogrammed canvas has been reengineered at a reduced weight of almost 50%. Similarly considered was space. The new designed has the aluminum extendable handle on the outside of the case reflecting extra space as well adding strength; as does it employ the use of side hinges similar to those used on the brand’s traditional hard trunks to allow for 180 degree opening. Leather details add to the aesthetic and silent, 360 degree movement miniature wheels account for ease.
“Maximum comfort and minimum volume” is a motto that is at the very core of the design making it very much in accord with any restrictions imposed by international airlines.
And extras were of course designed as well: a briefcase with a special strap to attach to the trunk, a padded computer sleeve, an accessories pouch, a set of 2 washable shoe pouches, a garment cover and a protective cover for use when checking in, which is included on the maxi size. The range (which comes in three sizes: mini 50 x 35 x 20 cm, cabin 55 x 39 x 21 cm and maxi 68x 46 x 26 cm) is being produced in Monogram canvas, Monogram Eclipse, Damier Graphite, Taiga leather and 7 colors of Epi leather and in natural cowhide leather. In a second step the only rolling luggage to be finished entirely in laser engraved monogram titanium will be added to the collection.
After 18 months of development and some three new patents the result is a very telling marriage of past and future. It boldly speaks to Louis Vuitton’s reputation for greatness as well as for innovation. It’s always impressive when two worlds can so beautifully collide; and even more so when they swiftly get you passed security.