The possibilities in applications of new illuminating fiber optic materials really excited me and especially applying these materials to the inside of bags. The new materials that Fabrikk has been working with come from a company in Italy who specialise in making high-end and bespoke materials for clients, mainly in the Yachting industry.
In the first instance, we communicated with them on the phone and via e-mail when we were at the prototyping stage. The communication was tricky as my Italian is terrible and their English wasn’t any better. Then, suddenly the whole company seemed to disappear from the World Wide Web completely? And you can imagine the panic I was suddenly struck by then!
Had the company gone bust??? Was this the end of my dream to produce illuminating bags!? It’s the gamble you take when starting projects that rely on third parties. I scrambled through my diary for their phone number and an Italian gentleman managed to explain. Thankfully, they were still going to be producing the materials but the patent and licensing rights had just been sold to another company. Another company who could communicate well in English, fortunate for us and who had completely re-structured the way we could buy the materials. The changes made it much more flexible and easier for us to work with them. It also meant we could have a lot more flexibility with our design’s as well.
After producing our first few samples I was excited to go over to Milan and meet them as they were very keen to see how we had worked with their new materials as well. It’s always amazing to travel and I love Italy! Any excuse going. It was a great pleasure to meet and work closely with them on the development of the project. There aren't any photos taken inside the suppliers as quite often they don't allow clients to see their secret processes. But there is always time for a bit of exploring; whilst in Rome.
Milan - Italy
It’s good to meet important suppliers face to face and build relationships, especially when you are trying to negotiate a better deal on materials at sky high prices! Also, you get to see everything they are doing first hand and any new developments they are working on. It’s a lot more interesting and beneficial to see things in person than just look on a website if you have the chance.
We also shopped around the for the best cork ‘leathers’. There are a few out there and we were searching for the best! After receiving and testing many samples we found two exceptional suppliers, one in Portugal and one in Florence. The company in Florence produce an extensive collection of cork materials that were not all on the website and were not send out as sample packs. They produce hundreds of different colours and designs and the only way to see them all is to visit the factory or catch them at a trade show like LINEAPELLE in Milan, I highly recommend if shopping around for new materials and hardware.
I would spend all day in their cork showroom. Selecting samples and talking to them about the different finishes, usually taking home around 200 + samples to whittle for our first and future collections. Exhausting but so much fun! And amazing to think that just one material has endless possibilities and it’s ecological, I’m in heaven!
Florence - Italy