Do you know those Russian nesting dolls? The ones that are wooden and brightly painted and you open one up to find a smaller one inside and so on and so on….
Well. My work bag is also a Russian nesting doll. It’s a large canvas tote with a smaller pouch inside in which you can find my laptop and another pouch, which you open up to find my wallet, keys, glasses, and, oh yes, another pouch. Inside that pouch is some blush, a few lipsticks, hair ties and a rotating perfume sample.
So, if I want a hair tie I have to unzip FOUR pouches.
That’s insane. Especially considering when you want a hair tie, you usually want it immediately.
But I’ve never found a better solution to daily organization than turning my bag into a Russian nesting doll.
Melissa Morris was also fed up with this problem and didn’t understand why everyday bags were not updated to support us adequately as we moved through our day.
Read on to see for yourself and hear about Melissa’s brand philosophy and peek inside her studio in London!
Your bags were designed with a “woman on-the-go” mentality. Can you talk a bit about how your specific design of bags caters to this?
I created L.O.N.B. because I wanted to redefine luxury leather goods for the twenty first century. Technology has revolutionized our lives in so many ways, but the inside of a bag had never changed to follow suit. I realized we are all busier than ever and in essence are “traveling” in different journeys every day from morning to night. I thought that the bags we carry along with us should address this. My vision was to create the perfect balance between form and function for the modern world and do so with luxurious refinement so we no longer have to compromise beauty for practicality or vice versa.
When designing a bag I start out by thinking about a particular journey – for example the work bag. Then I think of all the things that must go inside – a laptop, a pen, a building card, maybe a small toiletry case etc. Then I think about how we move through that journey. Are there times when you want to leave a bigger bag at your desk and run out for lunch with a smaller bag? I try to be as detailed as possible when I create my functional requirements while still allowing the flexibility for each person’s individual needs. From there, I bring each shape to life.
You describe your bags as “mindful luxury.” How do you define mindful luxury?
While practicality is the most obvious differentiator of our brand, the true magic lies in our design philosophy. We have three core values and it is the perfect intersection of these values which defines our brand. They are: Unparalleled functionality. Uncompromized craftsmanship. And a relaxed and refined aesthetic.
Every design decision I make considers these three values. I would never add a large zipper for example if a tab and snap would suffice as it would only add weight to the bag. I may need an exterior pocket for functional reasons, but it must be integrated seamlessly as to not look utilitarian to protect the aesthetic.
I cannot underscore enough how rare our craftsmanship is. Each bag is infused with effortless ease on the outside and intuitive purpose on the inside. Our bags are the lightest in the market and also have been tested in Italy- with 25kg of stones and shaking, wind, rain humidity- to ensure they stand the test of time. These dichotomies of lightweight yet lasting, functional yet effortless, sophisticated yet relaxed, can only be realized through our special recipe for uncompromised craftsmanship.
I love the “runaway” — a panel at the core of all your bags that creates a ease and versatility in one’s life by being a hybrid of a wallet and clutch that moves with you throughout your day. Where did the idea for this organization panel come from?
It came from my own experience! I always had pouches inside of bags- one for essentials, one for toiletries etc. But these pouches invariably became mini-bottomless pits inside my bigger bag which was a bottomless pit. The amount of times I was on the floor in the subway looking for my metro card (which was always in my pants pocket from the day before) or the amount of times I couldn’t find my keys… I just thought, there must be a better way to do this!
The more I looked around, the more I saw everyone else was doing the same things and had the same complaints. So I realized there is a real need here and I wanted to solve it.
The Runaway is incredibly special- we actually have a global patent-pending claim. The idea was to have a panel which organizes all your essentials that you always carry with you. You can move The Runaway from bag to bag so you never have to repack or worry about forgetting something in your other bag
The metal flip locks which attach the Runaway are crafted from solid brass. I spent a month in Italy with our metal worker to design the perfect sound and movement of the spring so that it feels secure and has the right amount of power to make the perfect “cluck” sound. In fact, it was designed to mimic the sound of closing my partner’s vintage Porsche 911 car door.
Your bags have such a distinct style to them, I’m wondering where you look to for inspiration? Is there something or someone that inspires you over and over again?
Yes absolutely. I reference other designs which I believe are the perfect intersection of form, function and soul. My designs have warmth which is a really important part of my aesthetic. I look a lot to the 60s and 70s when there was an innate warmth to design. Lines were rounded and colours were warmer.
Specifically, I love 1960s Riva boats; they are the epitome of purposeful and soulful design. Boats must be so clever and thoughtful with how they utilize space and I love how seamlessly the compartments are integrated. I also love vintage 911 Porsches. In particular, I love the dashboard. It does everything it needs to without being overdone. It’s reduced to perfection yet infused with warmth. I also look a lot to interior design and specifically chairs. I love Charlotte Perriand and Hans Wegner for example. I love the organic and minimalistic qualities to their work. They perfectly united form, function and soul with luxurious refinement.
A friend once described my aesthetic as warm minimalism. I think this is probably a good description. I like clean lines and shapes, but they must have warmth, soul and timeless modernity.