Paris 2011, “Rue Réaumur”, on a 4th floor apartment, a man is sitting in front of his computer, searching for the perfect portfolio for his laptop. After checking department stores, designers and a couple of brands and boutiques, he is determined to find what he has been looking for, even if it has to be through the Internet. A couple of sites have gone by, but no luck yet…
Pretty, but small; functional, but not durable… No design seem to catch his attention. While he wonders if it is this hard for everyone, or if he is just being too “selective” because he is also a designer, he starts to think once again, where could he find something similar to what he is looking for. A good design, but without having to sacrifice quality and functionality. He keeps on thinking, but nothing comes to mind, there are no other options he can think of.
Being a visual person, he decides to illustrate his idea to help free his mind, he reaches for a piece of paper and a pen and starts to roughly sketch “the perfect bag”. Simple, minimalistic, functional, sturdy, spacious and over all, timeless. Something that he would be able to use in many situations for a long time, an item to carry all the things he needs on the day-to-day, the bits and pieces of his daily life. Something that would feel like himself and represent a part of his individuality, not just another mass production item. He lifts the sketch up, tilting it towards the light and sets his pen on the table, to have a better look at it. “This is it” – thinks to himself, “this is exactly what I would need to find”, he proceeds to lay down the drawing, to search for a bit more, but finds himself looking back at the piece of paper across the table.
Nothing feels just as perfect as the one he created. He starts to wonder how many people would share his same opinion and might be searching without luck for something just like that, an item full of character, quality and with a fresh design. This is the story of how BONASTRE was created. A brand product of an idea made into reality, by a brave designer that decided not to play safe and take risks to take his ideas out of the box of maybes and into the one for creation.
The creator and founder of BONASTRE, Fernando Bonastre de Celis, is a designer natural from Spain, but based in Paris. A couturier who has acquired experience working under many renowned brands for years. An innate designer that even when creating for bigger brands, never forgot his desire to create for himself, deciding to jump at the chance of bringing his creations to life, out of the sketching face, where many others in his place have decided to leave them at.
BONASTRE is a brand, result of the search for simplicity and aestheticism. A brand aiming to provide minimalistic pieces that catch attention through the usage of volume and shaping, the brand aspires to be something more than just a pretty face. It is a brand definitely able to deliver the looks, but without ever forgetting about the brains.
With his creations BONASTRE does not only dominate aesthetics, but also quality without loosing sight of one of his main goals as a brand, functionality. A rare quality nowadays, many times completely forgotten or overshadowed by design, but one of the main concepts the creator works around. BONASTRE focuses on mastering space, as a brand that not only considers capacity “a luxury of the modern world” but that also recognizes bags as “a nomadic space to hold our privacy”. For Fernando, architectural movements such as “Brutalism”, bring big doses of inspiration, which together with minimalism and the creation of “forms that follow function” are the key of his designs.
Another reason that makes BONASTRE´s bags so special, lies on the materials and production. The bags are not only designed to be unique, but also created completely from scratch and one at the time. Every bag is made by a single craftsman only. A professional artisan that dedicates around 20 hours per bag, before there are throughly checked and even ready to face another solidity test, which will prove the bag´s ability to handle, without trouble, whatever you might throw at them.
The pieces are made in Andalusia, a region located in the south of Spain that has kept the tradition of making leather goods, since it was once started around the Middle Ages. A tradition so engraved in the culture and the know hows of their professional saddlers, that has granted them the well deserved reputation concerning their techniques and quality of their work. Even with all the technology available today, most of the craftsman use the ancient methods that were developed once upon a time, making the location one of the lasts European scenarios, for the production of Luxury leather goods.
BONASTRE´s workshop is located just there, in the middle of where it all started, a location that was once very carefully examined and selected by the designer itself, before ever deciding to make the first sketch come beautifully to life. The workshop was decided upon due to the fact that tools and know-hows have been carefully passed down through generations until this same day, allowing the relations among brand, designer and workshop to be intimate and based on the same desires, the one of creating the best and most beautiful creations, out of high quality materials.
The brand wants to be as responsible as possible with the environment, for which it uses vegetable tanned leather, developed with chestnut and oak tannins and olive oil finishing, as well as linings, carefully selected from recycled cotton. These materials are chosen by the designer, to back up an ethical approach with his brand and creations.
Besides the recycled cotton; only vegetable-tanning leather is used, which has been pointed out as an alternative material in fashion that will be able to reduce consumption overtime, due to its high quality that allows buyers to use the same items for very long periods of time. Vegetable tanning is a type of leather coming from a sub-product of the food industry that stays away from harmful chemicals, while substituting them for acids found in nature. Even though it is one of the most natural and environmentally friendly ways to work on leather, it is not often the one chosen by brands, due to longer production times, higher production costs and the necessity of it being worked on by an experienced and scarce number of specialist, which reduces the earning ratio for companies, but brings a whole lot of advantages for the consumer and environment, due to the durability and strength of the materials, it not being harmful for the consumers health and also being far more efficient than most synthetic materials.
Eco-friendly materials and functionality are not the only thing to take out from this brand, design as previously mentioned, also play a big part. Being constantly innovating in new techniques to upgrade its game of creation, an honorable mention has to go to one of the latest additions for the brand, the addition of “scarifications” to its designs. An unprecedented technique in the field that uses handwork inspired on these rituals from certain tribes around the world. Scarifications which hold origin into the creation of artistic motifs on the skin, through superficial incisions to mark the passage to adulthood, is incorporated into the brand with leather handwork in 2D, that gives each bag a colorful and unique aesthetic, able to top any look.
The brand was created in 2011, but it has come a long way after that. One of its big milestones was the opening of its own store located right on the heart of Paris, specifically at “le Marais” one of Paris most popular districts in terms of fashion. The store located in rue du Perche number 10, colliding also with rue de Saintonge, matches minimalist aesthetics, with the bags filling its shelves, but also receives the visit of an outstanding number of tourists and locals that go through its items daily to select “the one” the had been looking for.
The store is not the only way to be able to acquire one of these exquisite bags, the brand also visits most of the best fashion fairs around the world and is available at illustrous locations around the globe such as, Bon Marché & Le Printemps in Paris, Barneys in NY, Kadewe in Germany, Luisa Via Roma in Italy, Wako & United Arrows in Japan, Galeries LafayeGes in Indonesia and even in Korea you can find its delicious items at places like Shinsegae or Hyundai department stores. The number of customers and locations keeps increasing every year, but probably the biggest milestone was reached this 2018, when the online store was launched, allowing anyone to get their hands on their dream bags.
It is no doubt that the brand has been conquering Europe and different locations over time, even opening their internet platform, which to me is no surprise due to the quality, uniqueness and thoughts behind its products. An increase in volume that I am positive will continue to get more attention, who knows, if you are reading this you might be already setting a trend ahead of the curve, so you are already early to the game.
This was all today, for a beautiful brand that just alike with its creator works under a big duality, being run by two places at the same time, Spanish origin and French location. With a Spanish heart that has built the foundation and a French development and evolution, both designer and brand will bring you right to the streets of Paris, with their Parisian effortless look, while carrying the wisdom, knowledge and nostalgia of the old ages, filled with full Spanish passion.
****Disclaimer: Pictures were not taken by me, but are being disclosed with the permission of the owner, BONASTRE, to whom the Copyright of the former pictures belongs to.