A group of architects, creative and fans of design in Surabaya have formed a community to share an obsession - one might call it an addiction - with Freitag bags.
Photo by Freitag Surabaya Community
The brand is the brainchild of brothers Markus and Daniel Freitag, Switzerland-based graphic designers who took inspiration from the traffic outside their at to create uber-fashionable bags from tarpaulins, inner tubes and seat belts.
It's easy to see why Freitag's design ethos attracts architects: Each has a unique, colourful and thoughtful execution. While perhaps cut from the same piece of tarpaulin, bags display natural variations of colour and pattern that ensure no two are alike - something that's driven collectors around Surabaya - and the world - to obsession.
The Indonesia Freitag community was founded by Aditya Tan and Enoch Muljono, who are also behind das Quadrat - the Surabaya-based architecture-and-interior-design consultancy, which has also been profiled in this issue. The pair created the community with four Fs in mind: Family, fashion, fun and, of course, Freitag.
Aditya says that he first encountered the brand when looking for a sling bag when he was an architecture student at the University of Applied Sciences, Kaiserslautern in Germany; while Enoch similarly discovered the brand while at the nearby University of Applied Sciences in Weisbaden.
Durability and waterproofing are two factors of Freitag that have attracted Aditya, who was seen sporting a black bag printed with the letters "ARTI" during the community's last meeting in late October at ORE on Jl. Utung Suropati in Surabaya. That accidental relevance (arti means "meaning" in Indonesia) is an attraction, he adds.
The community's events typically gather from 25 to 40 families, most of who sport one of the many bags from their personal collections - Aditya says he has 80 - that have been flawlessly accessorised with their outfits. The brand, which has branched into men's and women's wear as well as accessories, is sold in 24 countries around the world, including Indonesia, where it is exclusively distributed by the ORE retail space.
One member of the community, Melania, a 31-year-old Surabaya-based architect, recounted buying a staggering 35 bags for her friends while on vacation in South Korea. Melania went to Freitag's 11 stores in Seoul, sending photos of the bags to the community's online group. She returned to Surabaya with about Rp 100 million worth of collectible bags. She claims to have 20 bags - at the moment.
Meanwhile, architect Budi Kurniawan, who favours bags in solid colours, said that he wasn't deterred when his wife did not initially support his addiction. The brand makes bags with unique personalities. While it took some time, Budi said he finally found a Freitag to match his partner. "Go look at yourself in the mirror," Budi said he told his wife, handing her a Freitag of his choosing. "'What do you find?'" "'Yes,'" she answered, Budi said. "'I think I have found my first bag.'"
Another architect featured in this issue, Enshi Sin, recalled when he was spotted with a Freitag bag while in Milan and was then hauled into a picture with a passer-by. "Why not buy one?" Sin says. "I look and buy two. Then another four." Of the 35 bags Melania purchased in Seoul for the community, seven were for Sin. He's still on the lookout for rare Freitag bags sporting the Coca-Cola logo.
While members of Freitag Indonesia may covet and obsess over specific bags, also evident is a strong ethos of community. Melanie says that bags are frequently gifted and are often traded among members. "This is not about the bag," Melania says. "It's about sharing."